Why? What Causes a Flood?
Flash floods can occur within minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Almost every home in the U.S is in a flood zone, with the majority being in “preferred flood zones” (Sources: Ron’s Article – Worth Magazine Article, Home Flyer – Flood Insurance).
Floods have many causes and can occur anywhere but here are some of the most common events that lead to flooding:
- Storm surges in hurricane-prone areas
- Flash flooding, caused by periods of intense rainfall
- Mudslides, caused by long, heavy rain periods on a hill or mountainside
- Snowmelt, caused by the still-frozen ground unable to absorb excess water
- Ice jams, which are formed when an ice chunk flowing in a river or stream blocks, dams or narrows passageways, causing overflow
- Urban development, such as new construction and/or ground paving
Water doesn’t care where you live. Just a single inch of water from flooding can cause costly damage to your home.
Doesn’t my homeowners (or for a business general policy) cover this?
While the mass media would tell you that it only takes “15 minutes to save…” it is our experience that any person or business that has items of value needing protection are covered by the wrong company, with inadequate or missing coverage. Specifically, this largely comes into play with flooding. By definition, a flood is defined as an overflowing of a large amount of water beyond its normal confines, especially over what is normally dry land. Now you’re probably thinking, “doesn’t my general business policy or homeowners cover this?” The answer is no.
A flood policy can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood policies cover structural damage, furnace, water heater, central a/c air, flood debris clean up and electrical and plumbing systems. Beyond the items covered, popular belief among the public is the mentality that “you are only in a flood zone if your property/business/etc. is located near a body of water, or an area where flooding occurs regularly.” This is false – reality is that almost every property/business/etc. in the United States is in a flood zone.
(Sources: Ron Assise – Worth Magazine Article, Home Flyer – Flood Insurance).
What’s not covered without Flood Insurance?
Before we go into what is not covered without a flood policy, claims related to water are extremely complex. Here’s why: if water comes through the front door of your home, this usually constitutes a flood claim. However, in some places, you may not have coverage for wind storms – if wind rips off the roof and as a result your house floods from the rain, you’re out of luck.
Want to take it a step further? What if the wind was caused from a storm? What if it was due to a tornado? These differences matter because you’re covered if it’s from a tornado but not a wind storm. The bottom line is that it isn’t about whether or not you have coverage. If you have coverage, the cause of a loss can have a huge impact on the deductible depending on the type of storm and cause of the wreckage.
Now let’s look at what isn’t covered when you don’t have Flood Insurance according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Essential systems in the home: electrical and plumbing systems, furnaces, water heaters, central air conditioners, heat pumps, and sump pumps.
- Appliances: Refrigerators, ranges, and built-in appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are all usually covered. Portable window air conditioners and freezers and the food in them.
- Carpeting and window treatments: permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor, or any other kinds of carpets over wooden floors, window blinds and curtains.
- Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets: If you have to replace your cabinets, your policy will pay only for the ones that were damaged but if you don’t have a policy, forget about any pay out.
- Foundation walls, anchorage systems, and staircases attached to the building.
- A detached garage, used for limited storage or parking
- Personal property. – clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment—though only if they’re not stored in the basement.
- Certain valuables. – original artwork and furs, up to $2,500 in value.
Being Prepared: Anywhere It Rains, It Can Flood
- Build an emergency kit in case of the worst and keep it on hand in an accessible spot
- Know how to turn off utilities
- If you suspect a leak, knowing how to turn off your home’s gas and electricity can protect your family from fires or explosions. Locate and label your electrical panel as well as your water and gas valves.
- Store emergency supplies. Above all, in the event of a disaster, you will need access to clean water.
- You will need at least 1 gallon of water per person, per day. In addition, emergency supplies like first-aid kits, whistles, flashlights and cellphones will be critical to have.
- Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel in your home or workplace
- Make sure the ground area within 10 ft. of your home slopes AWAY from your foundation
- Use your landscaping to prevent mudslides or flooding
- Always check and keep your gutters clean
- Have your roof inspected once a year
- Be proactive! Educate yourself and don’t wait until it happens to you
© 2017 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.