When buying a home, the last thing most of us look at is the homeowner’s insurance policy. After all, with all the confusion and documents already in the home buying process, it can sometimes, seem like it is just not that important. After all, homeowner’s insurance is all the same, right? Unfortunately, no as these policies typically do not cover floods or damages caused by them.
Flood Insurance Primer
Of course, if the home is located in a “Special Flood Hazard Area,” a flood-prone area, flood insurance will be required. But, for the vast majority of Washington homebuyers, this is not the case, and they only find out they do not have flood insurance after a flood occurs. And, with our ever changing climate and weather patterns, flood insurance is becoming more and more important, especially if the home is in a minimal or moderate flood hazard area.
Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program, and sometimes, through your local agent. But, not all insurance companies provide flood insurance. For the NFIP though, there are policy limits, and they have a 30 day hold period before the insurance takes effect.
Tips for After a Flood
After a flood is not the time to be looking for tips on how to deal with a flood. The time is now, during the insurance process so that new homeowners are prepared. First, remember do not drive on flooded roadways. Turn around. Do not drown.
Next, before entering your home, make sure it is safe to enter, and remember that gas leaks and exposed wiring are common after a flood. This could cause an explosion or electrify water left in a basement. Talk to your local officials before returning to make sure it is safe.
Once you know there is damage, call the insurance company immediately. This does not mean you have to go before you call. If you know your home has been flooded, you can call. When you arrive though, take photographs and videos of the damage, and then make a list of all of the lost and damaged items.
Do not make unilateral permanent repairs or dispose of damaged property until you speak with your insurer. They may want to see the site, as is. But, you should make mitigation efforts, like sandbags, water pumps, etc. Remember to keep receipts for these items to ask for reimbursement.
Remember, even if the insurance company says, “no,” there may be options. Contact a denied claim attorney immediately. They may be able to help. There may also be federal emergency grants or loans available.