What you need to know about flood damage
Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover the peril of flood damage. Although there has been recent talk about the private sector underwriting flood insurance, most carriers who issue flood coverage do so through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). They are known in the insurance industry as Write Your Own (WYO’s) and for a substantial fee they service the flood insurance program for the federal government.
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Even then, you may be surprised to learn that the Flood Program will not cover such items as:
- Exterior decks, Bulkheads & docks.
- Land, soil, Trees, bushes, plants, grass or shrubs.
- Exterior hot tubs.
- Exterior stoops, patios or walkways. Only 16 sq ft of the exterior area outside of your entry doorway is covered.
- No personal property located in your basement area.
Items that are covered by a flood policy are:
- HVAC systems.
- Unfinished drywall.
- Steps leading to upper levels.
- Washers & Dryers.
- Electrical components.
- Elevators and related equipment installed prior to 09.30.1987
- Sump pumps.
- Water softeners & the chemicals in them.
- Water filters & Faucets installed as part of the plumbing system
- Well water tanks & pumps.
- Foundation elements required to support the building.
- Required utility connections for any item on this list
- Clean up of flood damages.
- Awnings & Canopies.
- Light fixtures.
- Permanent wall units, cabinets, paneling & wallpaper.
The two coverage’s you will be entitled with a flood policy are Dwelling / Building coverage and Contents coverage. Contents below the surface of the ground that are not subject to a flat walk out to street level are usually excluded from coverage, in other words even though you have content coverage it only applies to damaged items on upper levels of your property, not in your basement, not in your yard and not in a shed. Items in your garage do have limited coverage regardless of whether the garage is detached or attached as long as the structure is above ground.
Building coverage’s under flood policies are limited as well. Basement /below ground level materials only certain building items and there are many exclusions for items including but not limited to; doors, trim, paint carpeting just to mention a few. Boilers / HVAC, hot water heaters, water filtration systems and freezer units are some of the main items covered.
If you only have flood coverage for your building, you will not have coverage for your contents under your homeowner’s policy. The only time you have coverage for your contents during a flood catastrophe is if you have an additional loss that is covered by the perils listed in your homeowner’s insurance policy such as a fire resulting from flood water causing an electrical fire.
When purchasing flood insurance, you should consider the cost of replacing your building and contents, however, most flood policies only cover $250,000 for buildings and $150,000.00 for contents damages. When purchasing a flood policy, if your rates are affordable, you should get the maximum policy limits. You should also consider a reasonable deductible, which may help offset expensive flood policy costs.
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