What is a Flood?
Flooding is defined by the National Flood Insurance Program as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from overflow of inland waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, and mudflows.
This can be brought on by landslides, a hurricane, earthquakes, or other natural disasters that influence flooding, but while a homeowner may, for example, have earthquake coverage, that coverage may not cover floods as a result of earthquakes.
Flood damage is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy, but "flood insurance" is available from the federal government under the National Flood Insurance Program. It is sold by licensed insurance agents. Flood damage is typically excluded under homeowners and rental policies and many commercial property policies. Flood insurance protects homeowners and renters against losses from a flood. If a home is located in a flood plain, the lender will require flood insurance before approving a loan. To determine risk factors for specific properties, insurers will often refer to topographical maps that denote lowlands and floodplains that are susceptible to flooding
You will need flood insurance if you live in a designated flood zone. But flooding can also occur in inland areas and away from major rivers. Consider buying a flood insurance policy if your house could be flooded by melting snow, an overflowing creek or pond or water running down a steep hill. Don't wait for a flood season warning on the evening news to buy a policy, because there is a 30-day waiting period before the coverage takes effect.
Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn’t just based on history, it’s also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.
Homes and businesses located in communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are eligible for flood insurance at a modest cost through the federal government. Under this program, insurance companies issue flood insurance and the federal government administers the program.
Flood insurance normally requires a 30-day waiting period from the time you sign up before the coverage is effective. Exceptions are only made for certain circumstances, such as if you're purchasing a home and the closing is in less than 30 days. Flood policies must be paid in full. If you are paying for your flood policy out of pocket, be sure to make your renewal payment on time -- otherwise you may have to wait up to 30 days for new coverage to be effective.
Even homes that are located in non-flood zones can be damaged by a flood. In fact, 30% of flood damage occurs in areas that are not considered high risk. It is important to know what a flood is and understand the mitigating factors.
What does a flood insurance policy cover?
Flood insurance covers the structure of your home and equipment essential to the structure of the building in the event of a flood. Typically long, heavy rain leads to the type of flooding that is covered by a flood policy.
Living in a condo or rental? Flood insurance is available for you too, in case flood waters wind up getting up close and personal with your belongings.
How Can You Protect Against Flood Damage?
The Federal Government runs a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is why most home and property insurance typically doesn't cover flooding.
The government draws a Flood Hazard Boundary Map that divides the country into flood zone risk areas, and their Flood Insurance Rate Map sets the coverage and premiums for those areas.
You can enter your address at www.floodsmart.gov to find out your risk.
How Can You Protect Against "Non-Flood" Water Damage?
You may need to consider additional water backup insurance. Neither the NFIP, nor your base homeowner's policy, will typically cover water that backs up through sewers or drains or overflows from a sump pump.
Be Prepared for a Flood
Floods can happen anytime and anywhere. And they can happen fast. So whether you live near the water or not, you should always be ready. Here are some important things you can do to prepare.
• Copy your most important documents (mortgage papers, deed, passport, bank information).
• Keep copies in your home and store originals in a secure place outside the home, possibly in a safe deposit box.
• Take photos of your most valuable possessions (furniture, musical instruments, electronic equipment)
• Store copies with other documents.
• Save and store receipts for any expensive household items (appliances, electronic equipment, etc) so that you have proof of original cost.
• Make an itemized list of other possessions, such as clothing, books, small kitchen appliances, etc. You don’t have to note every item and its cost, but the more comprehensive your list, the better.
• Flood insurance only covers basement equipment essential to the structure of the building such as a furnace and hot water heater.
• Review your policy and ask us questions to make sure you have the proper level of protection.
Have an Emergency Plan
• Provide your insurance agent, employer, and family with emergency contact information, so that you can be reached after a flood.
• Put aside an emergency kit equipped with a large flashlight, spare batteries, candles and waterproof matches.
• Keep a minimum 3-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water on hand.
• Include a battery-powered radio in your emergency kit. Even if you never experience a flood, you’ll be glad to have this kit during a power outage.
• Visit http://www.disasterassistance.gov for more information.
Be Safe During a Flood
Hopefully you never have to experience a flood firsthand. But if you do, there are a few things you can do to stay safe.
• Don’t walk through a flooded area. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down.
• Don’t drive through a flooded area. Just two feet of water can lift and move a car, even an SUV.
• More people drown in their cars than anywhere else during a flood.
• Keep away from downed power lines and any other electrical wires, electrocution is often a major cause of death in floods.
• Watch out for animals who’ve lost their homes during a flood. Animals may seek shelter in your home and aggressively defend themselves.