With the devastating effects of Hurricanes Harvey & Irma all over the news lately, we've been getting a lot of questions about flood coverage. It's important to note that flood damage is typically not covered by your homeowners or renters insurance. There are specialized flood insurance policies that can be purchased to protect your home and belongings.
What about water / sewer backup
Water / sewer backup coverage can usually be added to your policy for an additional premium. It's an important coverage to discuss but it does not cover water damage that seeps in through the ground or walls or that comes in through windows or doors. Water / sewer backup coverage is designed specifically for water damage that results from a backup of sewers or drains, or is a result of your sump pump not keeping up or not working.
Preparing for a flood
FEMA recommends a number of steps to stay safe during emergencies and limit damage from flooding. You should:
- Build an emergency kit for your family containing such items as drinking water and nonperishable food for each member of your family (two-week supply), flashlights, a radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, necessary medications, personal hygiene items and copies of important documents.
- Create a communication plan so family members can reach one another.
- Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area with a high flood risk.
- Consider installing "check valves" to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
- If possible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your home and seal basement walls with waterproofing compounds.
Acting during a flood
If a flood is likely in your area, quick action may be necessary to protect your family and property. You should:
- Move immediately to higher ground if there is any possibility of a flash flood.
- If you need to evacuate, secure your home and move essential items to an upper floor. Disconnect electrical appliances. However, do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
- Do not walk through moving water - it can make you fall. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If you are caught in your vehicle in floodwater, abandon your car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
Coping after a flood
- Flooding can cause emotional stress along with physical hazards, so be mindful of the well-being of you and your family during the aftermath.
- Floodwater can be contaminated by oil, gasoline or sewage, so avoid contact as much as possible.
- Make sure your city's water supply is safe to drink.
- Clean and disinfect everything that was in contact with floodwater.
Flooding is one of the most common hazards in the U.S. Being prepared for any emergency is crucial for the safety of you and your family. Don't be caught off guard! Learn more by visiting the American Red Cross website's flood safety page.
Disclaimer: The above are merely suggestions and tips, and are not meant to guarantee individual results. Any changes to insurance should be discussed with a licensed professional.
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