COLUMBUS — As part of National Preparedness Month, Ohio Department of Insurance Director is advising Ohioans to prepare for severe weather and possible flood damage by reviewing their insurance policies to determine whether they are adequately covered.
“Flooding can happen anywhere, at anytime,” said Director Hudson. “According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), even one inch of water in your home can cause up to $7,800 in damage. In addition, NFIP statistics show that a home in a high-risk area is three times more likely to be damaged by a flood than a house fire during a 30-year mortgage. It is important that Ohioans who are interested in purchasing flood insurance discuss their options with their insurance agent before a flood happens.”
Flooding is not covered in a standard homeowners, renters or business insurance policy and between 20 and 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from low-risk areas. So before you’re faced with rising water in your area, the Ohio Department of Insurance offers this information to help you get smart about your flood insurance options.
There is a 30-day waiting period from the time you purchase a flood insurance policy before coverage actually becomes effective. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides coverage to communities that have enforced flood plain management ordinances. In Ohio, the average annual policy cost is approximately $500 or more and they are sold by insurance agents. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) oversees community eligibility. A person is not required to live in a flood plain area to purchase a policy.
What does flood insurance cover?
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. Flood insurance does not cover damage to property directly caused by rain entering through an opening in a wall or the roof. These types of losses may be covered by traditional homeowners policies.
Homeowners: You may purchase flood insurance covering up to $250,000 of flood damage to your home. A standard flood insurance policy covers structural damage, including damage to the furnace, water heater, air conditioner, floor surfaces (carpeting and tile) and debris clean-up. The contents of your home are not covered under a standard policy, but coverage for up to $100,000 of damage to your personal property is available for an additional premium. Coverage for basements, crawlspaces and ground-level enclosures on elevated homes is limited. If your home has these spaces, be sure to ask your insurance agent about any restrictions in your coverage. Also keep in mind that most standard homeowners policies do not usually cover flooded basements caused by backed-up sewers or the inability of sump pumps to handle runoff water from major downpours, but add-on coverage can be purchased.
Renters: Flood is not covered under a basic renter’s insurance policy. Talk with your insurance agent about your flooding risks to decide if you need flood coverage for your belongings.
Business Owners: A flood insurance policy covers up to $500,000 on a non-residential building and its contents.
Where to get more information about the NFIP:
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Natural Hazards Division at 888-CALL-FLOOD or www.floodsmart.gov.
- The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Floodplain Management Program Office at 614-265-6750 or www.dnr.state.oh.us.
Preparing for disaster:
You never know when disaster may strike. Make a home inventory of your personal property including photos or video of your belongings. Store this inventory in a safe place to help file an insurance claim after a disaster. For more information about preparing for disaster, go to a special disaster preparedness section on the Department’s web site at www.insurance.ohio.gov.
Advance insurance planning tips:
- Examine your homeowners or rental coverage, as well as auto policies.
- Be sure you have adequate coverage and deductibles that are reasonable for your needs.
- A home inventory will assist in settling claims. Keep the inventory off-premises.
- Call the NFIP at 1-800-638-6620 to learn about flood insurance in your neighborhood.
If you have suffered property damage due to a storm:
- Call your insurance company as soon as you can. Be sure your agent knows how to contact you.
- Without endangering yourself, take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage.
- Closely inspect property and cars for damage. Note and photograph any damage.
- If required to seek temporary housing, check your policy for “loss of use“ coverage.
- Be sure everything is considered in your claim. Back up claims with written estimates.
Ohioans with questions about severe weather preparedness, insurance claims or flood coverage can call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526. Information is also available at www.insurance.ohio.gov.