April showers may bring may flowers but they bring other, less delightful things as well. This time of year sees melting of the winter snow pack, ice break ups on rivers and streams and lots and lots of spring showers. The result of all these factors is flooding. And that flooding can be severe in some places.
Flooding is different than many other natural disasters. Tornadoes, earthquakes, forest fires, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions can happen out of the blue, with little or no warning. Severe flooding, with the exception of “flash” flooding can take days or weeks to occur. Flooding builds slowly. It is this factor that can cause problems. When the news breaks that flooding may be coming, our inclination is to delay and procrastinate. There’s plenty of time to plan and prepare.
This is not a post about flood preparation. We won’t be discussing sand bagging techniques, water diversion strategies, pumping techniques or any other physical flood mitigation activities. This post is about something much less dramatic. It’s about insurance.
Are your property and possessions insured against flood damage? And if so, what kind of flooding does it cover? What is your level of insurance coverage? If you have to evacuate your residence for a short term or a longer term while flood related repairs are being made will your insurance cover living expenses, moving and evacuation costs, meals and transportation? These are all important questions.
The first question to ask is, “Do you have flood insurance?” If you are a property owner with a mortgage, flood insurance may be a mortgage requirement. For someone who is a tenant, even if you have content insurance, flooding may not be covered. If you do not have any insurance coverage for your personal property you should immediately look into it. Content insurance is not that expensive and in the event of any disaster such as a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake or other natural or man made event it could be a life saver. Imagine losing everything you own and not having the financial means to replace even the most basic of possessions such as clothing and simple kitchen equipment, beds, bedding and even towels. It’s a daunting thought.
If you do have property and content insurance, and it includes flood coverage, you should verify what kind of flooding it covers. Yes, surprisingly, there are many different kinds of flooding. These include basic overland flooding, ground water or rising of the water table, mud flow, surface water, backing up or escape of water or sewage, municipal water main breaks and others. You should also confirm that the policy includes mass evacuation coverage which means that you will receive compensation should you need to leave your premises and relocate to a temporary location.
Something else to consider is what your level of insurance coverage is. If you initiated content coverage many years ago you may have acquired many more possessions since that time meaning that the level of coverage you have may no longer be adequate. If that’s the case you may want to increase your coverage. Also, if you have valuable assets such as musical instruments, electronics, jewelry, high end fashions, shoes and accessories, antiques and artwork you may want to consider “replacement cost” coverage. It is more expensive than basic content insurance and there is a bit of administration required to implement this kind of insurance – you will need to catalog the items and verify their costs – but as a result, in the event anything happens to these items, you will be compensated for the full replacement value of the items.
And don’t forget about your car! Just because it is insured, that doesn’t mean it is covered for flood damage. It is a good idea to check on that while you’re doing a flood insurance review of your premises and property.
The time to plan for a possible disaster is before it happens. So please, take a few minutes to look into your flood insurance coverage. It will help you sleep at night.
While insurance is important to have, never forget that there are some things that insurance can’t replace – at any cost. That’s because these items are irreplaceable. We’re talking about family memory treasures such as photographs, videos, documents, letters, diaries and others.
For a detailed description of how you can take immediate steps to protect these treasures you should read this post