If you remember Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Harvey, then you know how devastating flooding can be. But do you know how to prepare for flooding and to protect your home? And do you have the correct insurance to help you pay for any damages?
This article will discuss flooding risks, ways to protect your home and insurance coverage.
Are You At Risk of Rainstorm Flooding?
Rainstorm flooding can occur during a hurricane but can also occur during any prolonged rainstorm. Not every home will have the same risk of flooding. Flooding is largely determined by the topography of an area as well as whether your property is near sea level. Coastal areas are at the greatest risk of flooding. However inland areas can also flood, especially near rivers.
When you purchase your home, it should have been disclosed whether the property is in a flood zone. However, construction and clearing of trees can change the flow of water and new flood zones can be created. If you are not sure if you are in a flood zone, you can check the FEMA flood zone map for your area.
This is also the information insurance companies use to determine flooding risk and coverage. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), flooding is one of the costliest weather disasters in the United States.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Home From Rainstorm Flooding?
Check the Building Codes
Reducing some of the risks of flooding can start at construction. New homes built in flood zones are usually required to be built up, either on structural “stilts” or on fill dirt. Many local city and county codes in low lying areas will likely require new construction to be built to minimize flooding. If your home is not newly constructed and you live in a flood zone, there are other things you can do to protect your home from flooding.
Check the Wiring in Your Home
All your in-home electrical systems should be raised at least a foot above the expected flood level. This means all sockets, switches, circuit breakers, and wiring. You can also modify indoor equipment such as the furnace and water heater by anchoring them above the flood line as well. Any outdoor equipment such as air conditioning units, generators and fuel tanks should also be anchored to prevent being washed away. A broken fuel line can contaminate the ground. It is also recommended that you install an interior or exterior backflow valve because flooding can also cause sewage backups into your home.
Watch For Places Where Water Pools on Your Property
Knowing how water flows around your home can also help you protect it from flooding. A properly built home will be constructed so that water flows away from the house. If you notice that water pools in your yard during a rainstorm, you may be able to contact your county for assistance in redirecting water.
Some more expensive measures can include the installation of foundation vents that allow water to flow under and out of your home instead of rising into your home. Other flood-proof protections can include the application of sealants to your walls to keep water out.
Maintainance and Last-Minute Preparations
If you have done all you can do to prevent rain storm flooding and a storm is approaching, be sure to keep your gutters and downspouts clear to allow as much rain as possible a clear path away from your home.
If you need to evacuate your home, turn off the electricity and put furniture, rugs and electronic equipment on the second floor or above the flood line.
You can also use sandbags, usually available locally during impending storms, to place in front of doors to reduce the flow of water into those openings.
Most Homeowners Insurance Won’t Cover Flood Damage
Despite all your preparations and preventative measures, you still might have to face the aftermath of rainstorm flooding. If you have damages from flooding, you will want to make repairs and be reimbursed by your insurance company. Unfortunately, it is not that simple when it comes to rainstorm flooding.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for flooding from rainstorms and hurricanes.
This seems contradictory because this same policy will usually include coverage for wind damage for storms and hurricanes. However, the flood damage caused by these storms is not usually covered. This is important to know before a storm comes.
If You Don’t Have Flood Insurance, You’re Not Protected
If you are in a flood zone and carry a mortgage, your mortgage company may require you to purchase flood insurance. This is a separate insurance policy with separate premiums. These insurance policies are backed by FEMA through the National Flood Insurance Program. Your policy may have the name of a national insurance company, but the money comes from the government.
Any homeowner can purchase additional flood insurance, whether required or not.
It is important to know that these policies will need to be purchased prior to an impending storm. Generally, once there is a named hurricane, it is too late to buy flood insurance that would protect you.
If you have flood insurance and your home is damaged by rainstorm flooding, it is possible to file a claim against the flood insurer and your homeowner’s policy. This is particularly important in the case of hurricanes. You may have wind damage and flood damage. Both policies will cover those damages separately. If you want to maximize recovery in these situations, it would be advisable to file two claims.
Rainstorm flooding can cause untold devastation. Don’t let lack for preparations leave you underwater.