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Protect Yourself with Flood Insurance

Even if you live in an area that has never flooded you still have some level of risk. It only takes a few inches of flood water to cause significant damage to your home. Homeowner, condo, renter and business policies do not cover damage caused by flooding. The only way to have protection is to purchase flood insurance.

Do not assume you don’t need flood protection. Consider these facts:

* Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.

* Floods are the #1 most common natural disaster in the United States.

* 20 to 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in low- to moderate-risk areas.

* 1 out of 3 flood claims paid are for policies in low-risk communities.

* Home owners are 4 times more likely to sustain a loss from a flood than a fire.

* 90% of floods aren’t declared federal disasters leaving the full cost to rebuild up to the home or business owner. Flood insurance protects you whether or not a disaster is declared.

* Your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of fire.

* In the past 10 years (1998-2007) the average flood insurance claim paid in the US was more than $33,000 per year.

* The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) awarded over $16 billion in flood claims in 2005.

* In the past 10 years (1998-2007) the NFIP paid over $23.6 billion to flood insurance customers.

Source: www.floodsmart.gov

Causes of Floods

You don’t need to live next to a river, on water or coastal area to be the victim of a flood. While the risk of flood varies depending on the area, often overlooked causes of flooding include:

  • Heavy rain
  • Inadequate drainage systems
  • Winter storms and nor’easters
  • Hurricanes and tropical storms
  • Snow melt
  • Failed dams or levees
  • Construction changing topography

What is a flood?

The National Flood Insurance Program defines a flood as “a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from:

* Overflow of inland or tidal waters;

* Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;

* Mudflow; or

* Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.”

What is covered by flood insurance – and what’s not

Generally, physical damage to your building or personal property “directly” caused by a flood is covered by your flood insurance policy. For example, damages caused by a sewer backup are covered if the backup is a direct result of flooding. However, if the backup is caused by some other problem, the damages are not covered by flood insurance. Instead you need to purchase a special endorsement on your home policy called “water backup and sump overflow”.

In most cases, a 30-day waiting period applies before the policy becomes effective. Don’t wait until a threat presents itself to purchase protection.