BASIC HOME INSURANCE DOES NOT COVER FLOOD DAMAGE
What Consumers Need to Know Before Flood Waters Rise
(DES MOINES) April 1, 2011– This past winter much of the country was hit with above average snowfall. Now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is warning this spring may bring above average rainfall. According to NOAA that puts almost half of the U.S. at risk for spring flooding. Some flooding has already occurred in our state or is occurring now, and more is predicted next week. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the Iowa Insurance Division (IID) suggests all consumers take stock of their belongings and their insurance policies to make sure they’re prepared in case the waters start to rise in their neighborhood.
Do You Have Coverage?
Floods – or an excess of water (or mud) on normally dry land – are not covered by a typical homeowners or renter’s policy. Some homes may be eligible for coverage under the The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP offers flood insurance policies for homeowners or renters in communities that participate in the federal program. There is a 30-day waiting period after the purchase of a flood insurance policy before the coverage kicks in, so take that into consideration when determining if and when to purchase coverage.
Another danger of flooding that is not generally covered in a typical homeowners or renter’s policy is mold. Flood waters can be the source of mold damage long after the mess has been cleaned up. If you are concerned with this kind of damage, check your current policy closely to see if it includes coverage for mold caused by flooding. If it does not, contact your agent to find out what options are available. Many insurance companies offer coverage for a separate premium.
Do You Have a Disaster Plan?
An NAIC national survey found a significant lack of preparedness among consumers in documenting their belongings. Nearly half - 48 percent - said they did not have an inventory of their possessions. A home inventory is important for a number of reasons. It can help you determine the types and level of coverage you need before disaster strikes. And after a major loss, the home inventory can assist you in filing a claim.
There are several simple ways to start building a home inventory. The NAIC’s web site www.naic.org recently added a home inventory assistance page where you can download a home inventory spreadsheet that will help get you started. If you are using an electronic or paper spreadsheet, remember to take pictures of your belongings, as you can then easily save them in the same place as the home inventory.
The same NAIC page will allow you to download the free NAIC myHOME Scr.APP.book app for iPhone®. The app will guide you through capturing images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then storing them electronically for safekeeping. The app even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.
You can find more information about what flood insurance covers and how to know if your home is in a flood area through Iowa’s donttestthewatersiowa.gov website, or by contacting the Iowa Insurance Division for a useful brochure.
“We found many Iowans were unprepared for 2008’s flooding”, said Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss. “Now we are doing all we can and working with other state agencies to help people know more about how to prepare and protect themselves.”
Flood insurance is only sold by licensed insurance agents in your area. Consumers may call the Iowa Insurance Division to confirm that the agent and company they are dealing with are licensed to sell flood insurance.
For answers to questions about acquiring flood insurance, contact the Iowa Insurance Division at 877-955-1212.
About the Iowa Insurance Division
The Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state, and enforces Iowa’s laws and regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or securities-related questions or complaints may contact the IID toll free at 877-955-1212 or visit the division on the web at www.iid.state.ia.us.
About the NAIC
Formed in 1871, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is a voluntary organization of the chief insurance regulatory officials of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The NAIC has three offices: Executive Office, Washington, D.C.; Central Office, Kansas City, Mo.; and Securities Valuation Office, New York City. The NAIC serves the needs of consumers and the industry, with an overriding objective of supporting state insurance regulators as they protect consumers and maintain the financial stability of the insurance marketplace. For more consumer information, visit insureUonline.org.