Water. We need it to survive, but it can also be a relentless, unforgiving beast. In mere minutes, water can cause property damage that requires months of costly cleanup and restoration.
Unfortunately, flood insurance is not typically included in standard homeowners or business insurance policies. While a policy may cover damage caused by a leaky dishwasher or faulty hot water heater, no standard policy automatically includes flood protection. When a rising tide of water causes a flood, damage to structures and personal property is usually covered only if the homeowner or business owner has a flood insurance policy. Examples of such flooding include water from oversaturated ground, backed-up drainage systems, and nearby surging creeks, rivers, or ponds.
Property owners should take appropriate measures to not only protect their homes and businesses but also themselves and their finances in case flooding occurs.
Flood mitigation tips
Taking some simple precautionary steps can help you protect your home or business from water’s destructive wrath.
- Inspect your structure’s roof regularly and promptly fix leaks or missing flashing.
- Check for good seals around all windows and skylights as well as ventilation and piping that leads into the structure from outside.
- Ensure all gutters and downspouts are clear of debris that could obstruct water flow. Runoff should always flow away from structures and walkways. It should never cause pooling near a structure’s foundation.
- Check basement drainage systems and test your sump pump for proper operation.
- Check nearby stormwater channels or streams and remove any large debris or vegetation that could stop water flow and cause flooding.
Know your coverage
While mitigation is important to help ward off flooding, it’s also vital to have proper insurance coverage to protect you if disaster were to strike. For each property you own — home, business, vacation home, or investment property — make a point to know what is and is not covered if the property were to sustain water damage. Also, be sure you know if your property lies in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) that requires extra coverage. For each property, make a checklist that details what coverage, if any, is included for water damage caused by:
- leaky plumbing or faulty appliances,
- groundwater swells,
- extreme weather, or
- an accident.
For each of the above, note on your checklist:
- Is structure repair or replacement covered?
- Is personal property covered?
- What is the deductible?
- If displaced due to water damage, are expenses covered — or must you pay out of pocket?
A detailed list of what is and is not covered in each situation provides a clear picture of the coverage gaps you should address.
Once you know what your current policies cover, find out what policy riders are available to maintain adequate coverage and prepare for all possible circumstances. This can get complicated as different insurance companies may offer diverse options at varying rates. The best tactic is to work with an experienced agent who understands underlying water damage intricacies as well as flood insurance and can help you navigate such complexities. A trusted agent can review your policies, recognize potential coverage gaps, and recommend appropriate riders to fill them at the most reasonable rates available. Such measures can keep your finances afloat in the soggiest of situations.