How to stay ahead of disaster using flood insurance and these safety tips

With spring showers and summer thunderstorms that can result in an excess of surface water, it is important to talk safety and insurance coverage. In fact, flooding is the most frequently occurring natural disaster in Ohio, according to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

Flood coverage is not included in a home, renter, condo or rental property policy. Everyone lies in some type of flood zone and should be prepared; flood insurance is not just for high-risk areas.

Smart Business spoke with Tim Able, director of sales & marketing at SeibertKeck Insurance Agency, about flood insurance, safety and the cleanup afterwards.

In insurance, what is the definition of flood?

Flood is an excess of water on land that is normally dry, including inland tidal waters; unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; 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.

What should homeowners know about flood insurance?

The average cost of a flood policy is around $600 — this will vary based on your flood zone. Your insurance agent can determine your zone. Special flood hazard areas and costal areas typically have a higher chance of flooding, resulting in higher premiums.

According to the National Flood Insurance Program, the average flood claim for U.S. homeowners is about $30,000 and does not always result in a total loss.

It is important to note that flood damage from wind-driven rain is not covered. Rain or wind-driven rain, and hail damage are not in the same damage category as floods. Wind-driven rain damage, regardless of the cause, is a covered peril like wind or lightning, which may have caused an opening in which rain has entered and caused water damage to the home or personal property. The National Flood Insurance Program considers the resulting puddles and damage to be windstorm-related, not flood-related.

How should you respond after a flood?

Your home has been flooded. Although floodwaters may be down in some areas, many dangers still exist. Here are some things to remember in the days ahead:

  • Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground. Use local alerts and warning systems to stay up to date on information and expert advice.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire or relief organization.
  • Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. Help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.

What are some tips for cleaning up and repairing your home?

Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in your community. That way, you can decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on.

The American Red Cross can provide you with information on safely entering and cleaning your house, as well as cleanup kits with a mop, broom, bucket and cleaning supplies. Listen to your radio for information on assistance that may be provided by the state or federal government or other organizations.
Contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.

If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, check references and be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through your neighborhood offering to help with clean up or repairs.

How can you get started on getting flood coverage?

A flood policy, unlike a typical home policy, has a 30-day waiting period, so call your insurance agent early and get the process started. He or she will walk you through the entire process, including your risks, your insurance options, the flood zone of your home and a quote for flood insurance.

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