COLUMBUS — Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor has issued a consumer alert to encourage Ohioans to be aware of the risks and financial responsibility associated with flood damage to their home. Floods threaten to destroy homes from coast to coast - and they can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning.
“Flood damage is not usually covered under a standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy and I urge consumers to review their insurance policies to determine if this damage will be covered ,” said Taylor, also director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. “Additionally, if consumers find that they need flood insurance, they should secure coverage as soon as possible because these policies do not go into effect until 30 days after the purchase.”
What is a flood?
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) defines flood to be a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area, or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder’s property).
What is flood insurance?
Flood insurance is a special policy that is federally backed by the NFIP and available for homeowners, renters and businesses. The standard flood insurance policy pays for direct physical damage to your insured property up to the replacement cost or actual cash value (ACV) of actual damages or the policy limit of liability, whichever is less.
Are you covered?
Flood insurance is available through the NFIP or licensed property and casualty insurance agents or private insurance companies. There are eligibility restrictions to qualify for National Flood Insurance. As of November 2014, the average flood insurance premium in Ohio is $898 annually. An insured home is eligible for up to $250,000; furnishings and contents coverage is available up to $100,000. Commercial (business) coverage is available up to $500,000. Farmers that experience agricultural losses are not eligible for flood insurance coverage; however, they may qualify for multi-peril crop insurance programs.
Tips to prepare before a flood strikes
- Contact your insurance agent or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at 1-888-379-9531 and visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn about flood insurance.
- Be sure you have adequate coverage and deductibles that are reasonable for your needs.
- Download the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) home inventory app from the Apple App Store or GooglePlay. A paper version is available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. Include as many details as you need and take photos of your possessions and store this inventory in a safe place to help file an insurance claim after a disaster.
Steps to take after a flood disaster
- Contact your insurance agent or company as soon as you can. Be sure your agent knows how to contact you, especially if you have to move out of your home.
- Take “after’ photos of floodwater in your home and of any damaged property.
- Make a list of damaged or lost items including the date you purchased them and the value with any receipts.
Avoid contractor fraud
- Beware of fraudulent schemes after a flood. Obtain a list of reputable contractors from your insurance company, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized consumer organization.
- Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.
- Ask for proof of necessary licenses, building permits, insurance and bonding.
- Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home.
- If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, personally watch them conduct the inspection.
- Obtain the terms and conditions of the project in writing.
- Avoid signing a contract until the document is reviewed fully and/or discuss the terms of the contract with a legal representative or a trusted adviser.
- Pay the contractor by check or credit card, rather than in cash, and do not pay in full until all work has been finished.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the department’s consumer hotline at 800-686-1526. Insurance information, including the department’s auto and homeowner/renter insurance consumer guides, are available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. You can follow the Ohio Department of Insurance on Facebook and Twitter. Free mobile smartphone insurance apps myHome Inventory and WreckCheck are available in your carriers’ downloadable apps marketplace.
Important safety information is available on the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness’ website, www.weathersafety.ohio.gov