COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It happens every year. All over America, floods happen and thousands suffer major damage to their homes. And then many of the victims find out they aren't insured. In Ohio, flooding is the most likely disaster.
"Buying flood insurance is the best thing you can do to protect your home, your business, family, and financial security," said Lee Champagne, federal coordinating officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Flood damage losses are reduced by nearly $1 billion a year through communities meeting sound floodplain management requirements and property owners buying flood insurance."
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, even though flooding is one of the most frequent and devastating causes of property damage.
Unlike a standard homeowners and renters policy, a National Flood Insurance policy covers losses to your property caused by flooding. The price is surprisingly low. The average policy costs about $400 a year for $100,000 of coverage.
Some of the things a standard flood policy will cover include:
- structural damage
- furnace, water heater and air conditioner
- flood debris cleanup
- floor surfaces such as carpeting and tile
You can also buy a flood insurance policy to cover the contents of your home, such as furniture, clothing, collectibles, jewelry and art.
Policies are available in three forms: Dwelling (most homes), General Property (apartments and businesses) and Residential Condominium Building Association (condominiums).
It's important to know that if you have a federally backed mortgage on a home in a high-risk zone, federal law requires you to buy flood insurance. Also, if you've received a federal grant for previous flood losses, you must maintain a flood policy to qualify for future aid.
When you're a flood insurance policyholder:
- Flood insurance compensates you for all covered losses.
- Coverage is relatively inexpensive. In a preferred risk zone, a policy may be as low as $100 a year.
- You can be reimbursed for flood damages even if the President does not declare a federal disaster.
- You don't have to repay a loan, as you might with many federal disaster relief packages. Your covered losses are paid in full.
- You can count on your claim being paid because NFIP flood insurance is backed by the federal government, even though your flood insurance claims are paid by policyholder premiums, not taxpayer dollars.
- Your agent can help you handle your claim quickly, so that you won't have to put your life on hold if your property is damaged by a flood. You can even request a partial payment immediately after the flood, which can help you recover even faster.
Contrary to what many believe, flood insurance can provide basement coverage. While flood insurance does not cover basement improvements such as finished walls, floors or ceilings, or personal belongings that may be kept in a basement (such as furniture and other contents), it does cover structural elements, essential equipment and other basic items normally located in basements. Many of these items are covered under building coverage, and some under contents coverage. The NFIP encourages people to buy coverage for both buildings and contents for the broadest protection.
Building coverage includes these items (as long as they are connected to a power source ...