Did you know that nearly 20% of all flood insurance claims come from low to moderate risk areas? Did you also know that the peril of flood is typically not covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy? In fact, this coverage is almost always specifically excluded from a homeowner’s insurance contract.
By definition, a flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land become inundated with water or mudflow. Hurricanes, overtopped leaves, outdated or clogged drainage systems along with sudden and rapid accumulation of rainwater are all causes of flooding.
With spring now upon us, so is the Spring Thaw which means still frozen land prevents melting snow or rainfall from seeping into the ground. Each foot of compacted snow contains gallons of water and once the snow melts it can result in the overflow of streams, rivers, ponds and even lakes.
It is important to keep in mind that just because you have not experienced a flood in the past, you will not experience a flood in the future. Your risk of experiencing a flood is based on many factors including rainfall, river flow, tidal surge, topography and land changes due to building and development. Your home does not need to located on the beach, by the ocean or bay, on a river or lake to suffer flood related damage. In fact, fifty-five percent of the America population lives in counties protected by levees and thirty-nine of the nation’s fifty largest cities lie (at least in part) on a flood plain.
In general, if you live in the high-risk flood zone then you should definitely have flood insurance and even if your home is not located within the flood zone, you should definitely consider having flood insurance. Since average flood claim for U.S. homeowners is about $30,000 (according to NFIP), you don’t want to end up being one of the 20% of low-risk homeowners that ends up with no flood protection after the home is flooded!
Being prepared for a flood can not only help keep your family safe, it can also help minimize potential flood damage and accelerate recovery efforts. An easy way to protect yourself is by purchasing flood insurance. However, you can also protect yourself by safeguarding your home and possessions, developing a family emergency plan, and understanding your policy.
Safeguard your possessions
- Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have the following:
- Insurance Information: A copy of your insurance policies with your agent’s contact information.
- Household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. Copies of all other critical documents including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.
Prepare your house
- Make sure your sump pump is working properly and install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement. Home Automation can go a long way in making you aware of potential flooding problems inside the home.
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
- Anchor any fuel tanks and raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation
- Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation
- Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
- Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone or program them in your cell phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.
- Have a plan to protect your pets.
For more information on emergency preparation, talk to one of our advisors or visit www.ready.gov
Protect Yourself and Your Home
Here’s what you can do to stay safe during a flood:
- If flooding occurs, go to higher ground and avoid areas subject to flooding.
- Do not attempt to walk across flowing streams or drive through flooded roadways.
- If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio for the latest storm information.
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if advised to do so.
- If you’ve come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.
Please visit www.floodsmart.gov for additional information.
McLean Insurance is a DC metro based full service independent insurance agency that is renowned for risk mitigation strategy creation and sound advice. If you would like to discuss your flood insurance needs and/or get a quote on flood insurance, please call one of our experts at 703-790-5770 or visit www.mcleaninsurance.com
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