Flood Insurance

Need Flood Insurance?

Do you need flood insurance? Well, walk to the nearest mirror and ask the person you see if he or she owns much property that could be damaged or destroyed by water. If the answer is yes, then you should seriously consider buying flood insurance. Most persons who need the protection buy coverage offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your community doesn't participate in the program, you'll have to look into coverage from private insurance companies.

Is A Flood Loss Likely?

The chances of your business, home or personal property being damaged by a flood depends primarily upon where you live. They also depend on other factors such as:

·        how much of a flood warning you receive

·        the level of flood precautions you take (such as moving personal property from lower levels to higher levels), and

·        the precautions taken by your community (such as the use of flood controls in construction standards or sandbagging threatened areas).

Floods are related to weather conditions and tend to affect very wide areas. This often makes chances of a flood loss higher than a loss from fires or windstorms. Many people have the obsolete belief that flood insurance is only needed if you live in a flood prone area.

I Live In A Flood Zone?!

If you hear the term "flood zone," you may think that it refers to locations that are particularly vulnerable to flooding. Wherever you live in the USA, you live in a flood zone. While your area may have a lower chance of flooding than a coastal area or a location situated near a body of water, your area could still experience flooding. A very dry part of the country can be susceptible to flash floods; hilly locations may be harmed by drainage; snowy locations may suffer from heavy snow thaw; other areas may suffer deluges or flooding due to a heavy rain season which has soaked the surrounding soil. So, if you've insured yourself against fire, wind and other causes of loss, it certainly makes sense to also protect yourself from the potential of a flood loss.

Why Worry When Disaster Coverage Is Available?

Are you thinking that, after a flood, your loss may be handled by the government declaring a disaster area? However, you're still taking a couple of large risks. First, your flooded locale may not be deemed a disaster area. Second, being designated as a disaster area is not a bargain. Disaster area status only gives citizens access to government disaster loans. IF you qualify for assistance, you have replaced insurance protection with an obligation to pay off a large, long-term loan. Is it worthwhile to gamble on an opportunity to pick up more debt? You'll find flood insurance to be a cheaper and much more valuable alternative.

Don't Be "All Wet"

You don't have to leave yourself unprotected. Your agent, an insurance professional, can help you with detailed information on the National Flood Insurance Program. You can also ask for help in getting the coverage you need in the face of a flood.

Saving Water Damaged Property – Part 1

Salvage experts, property specialists and government agencies advise that quick action is critical when dealing with water-damaged property. Many types of personal property can be saved within 48 hours of being exposed to water.

Before trying to save property, make sure that YOU are safe. Flooded buildings can be hazardous. Make sure that there is no danger of electrocution by turning off power and avoiding fallen utility lines. Do not come in contact with water containing sewage and make sure the floor, ceiling and wall supports pose no danger.

Once determined that the loss site is safe, it’s important to quickly contact the insurer. The insurance company should make it a priority to respond. It is important to get to a site to make an assessment of the damaged property and what items can be salvaged.

It is common that assessment is immediately followed or even accompanied by the work of restoration specialists who also are equipped to mitigate damage.

Be Practical and Prioritize

Often it is impractical or impossible to try to save everything, so prioritize. Make time spent on assessing damaged property will be more efficient by:

·         Work on property that is MOST important to you and that is most vulnerable to permanent damage.

·         Separate porous and non-porous property

·         Separate high value and low value property

·         Inventory and document property thoroughly and carefully

·         Take many photographs at different angles

·         Avoid throwing away any property until insurance company can inspect

·         One practical consideration is to forget about fully upholstered furniture and mattresses. Such property is usually impossible to properly dry and is often contaminated.


Saving Water Damaged Property – Part 2

Since quick action is imperative, the following are valuable tips on handling water damaged property.

Baskets–Rinse, drain and blot to remove excess water, stuff with clean paper towels or cotton sheets to retain shape and absorb stains, cover with clean towels and air dry slowly, regularly changing blotting material.

Books–If rinsing is necessary, hold book closed. If partially wet or damp, stand on top or bottom edge with covers opened to 90° angle; air dry. If very wet, lay flat on clean surface; interleave less than 20% of book with absorbent material; replace interleaving when damp.

CDs, DVDs–Remove from cases and bathe in clean distilled water, dry with lint-free towels and insert into new casing and copy.

Clothing/Fabrics–Brush off all loose, dried dirt. Rinse thoroughly in cold water as soon as possible until as much mud as possible is removed. Repeat if necessary. Do not use hot water as it sets stains from red or yellow clay. Machine wash when no more dirt can be rinsed out.

Leather (including shoes) and Rawhide–Rinse/sponge with clear water to remove mud, drain and blot to remove excess water, pad with toweling or unlinked paper to maintain shape, air dry. Manipulate tanned fur skins during drying to keep skins flexible.

Metal–Use gloves to handle, rinse/sponge and blot metal object, air dry. If object has applied finish, do not clean. Air dry; keep flaking surfaces horizontal.

Paintings–Remove from frames in a safe, dry place. Do NOT separate paintings from their stretchers. Keep paintings horizontal and paint-side up with nothing touching the surface. Avoid direct sunlight.

Paper–Air dry flat as individual sheets or in ¼" or smaller piles, with absorbent paper placed between each wet sheet (interleaving). Do not unfold or separate individual, wet sheets. Keep coated papers wet by packing in boxes lined with plastic garbage bags; freeze (maps or manuscripts), sponge water out; pack loose flat sheets in flat boxes or plywood covered with plastic sheets. If there are too many items for air drying, interleave (by groups or individually) with freezer or waxed paper; pack papers or files, standing up in sturdy containers; pack containers only 90% full and freeze.

Photographs–Remove from plastic/paper enclosures or frames; carefully rinse with cool, clean water; DO NOT touch or blot surfaces. Air dry, hang with clips on non-image areas, or lay flat on absorbent paper. Keep photographs from contact with adjacent surfaces or each other.

Rugs–To assist with drying and later, cleaning, it is helpful to squeeze out and vacuum as much moisture as possible. It is important to avoid contamination and development of mold. A great method for handling rugs is elevating property to facilitate draining and applying fans.

Upholstered Furniture–If antique or VERY valuable, get professional estimate on cleaning/restoring.

Wood Furniture–Rinse/sponge surfaces gently to clean, blot, and air dry slowly. If any painted surfaces are blistered or flaking, air dry slowly without removing dirt or moisture. Weigh down or clamp veneers in place while drying; separate weight from veneer with protective layer. (Finishes may develop white haze; treat later with wood cleaning product.)

Deja Flood

Natural catastrophes are events that occur on a massive scale and are beyond the ability of private insurers to properly  handle. One type of catastrophe is flooding. While flooding can affect a single home, floods tend to occur on a large scale, often causing substantial damages to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of homes during a single occurrence.

Because of their catastrophic nature, flood coverage in the United States is handled by an insurer of last resort; the federal government. Coverage for homes and businesses are available under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security; which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In the years after the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the government flood program has run into a number of major problems. The program is a financial black hole. The rates that are charged to policyholders are highly subsidized by taxpayers. The lack of sufficient premiums for the program is accompanied by other problems such as:

  • Adverse selection – coverage is purchased primarily by those with the very highest likelihood of loss
  • Communities that are supposed to help reduce losses by following building code strategies fail to enforce their laws
  • The trend continues of persons migrating to and building increasingly expensive homes in flood prone areas

However, another issue represents an ongoing problem. A small percentage of homes (less than five percent of homes insured under the program) cause a disproportionate share of losses. Technically they have been labeled Repetitive Loss Structures. The term refers to property located in areas that are highly prone to flooding and which have suffered several major losses within a given timeframe. Such homes were supposed to be subject to new flood program rules that required such buildings to undergo loss mitigation after a given number of losses. However, rather than owners being required to add features to minimize flood damage or to elevate the sites of the homes; they are repaired and/or rebuilt with no changes.

The flood program’s viability has been threatened by the fact that billions of dollars continue to be spent on, essentially, the same set of homes that undergo repeated losses. In essence, the flood program is being “flooded” by the lack of action and enforcement by individual property owners and their respective communities.