While fire may be a common concern among homeowners, Travelers claim data suggests that homes could be as much as 10 times more likely to be damaged by water than by fire.
One significant source of water damage to property can come from weather-related moisture or flooding, including: flooding from heavy rains, flash floods, dam and levee failures, tidal storm surges and mudflows. New construction development of buildings, roads or bridges can often alter the potential and flow of floods.
Being located within a high risk flood zone can put individuals at higher risk, but being outside a high risk zone does not mean homeowners are safe: flooding is always a possibility due to causes such as heavy rains, snowmelt and spring thaws.
Why should you consider purchasing flood insurance?
The average cost for homeowner flood loss from 2007 to 2011 was $30,000, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). While floods can cause major destruction, the damage caused by floods is not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. Talk to your independent agent or Travelers representative about your flood insurance risk and the benefits of a flood insurance policy.
A flood insurance policy provides specialized coverage to help you protect your home and condo from rising waters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, the date and type of construction, and the property's flood risk. In general, flood policies can provide coverage for your home's structure, furnace, water heater, furniture, appliances, clothing, rugs (with certain limitations for basement areas) and certain expenses you incur to protect your home from imminent flood damage and clean up costs. Generally, there is a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect. That means now is the best time to buy flood insurance. If you have any questions regarding homeowners insurance or flood insurance, contact your agent or company representative.
Learn how to help protect your property before, during and after a flood
In addition to purchasing the right insurance coverage, there are a number of things you can do to help minimize or prevent water damage to your property.
Know your flood zone risk. Evaluate your flood risk.
Have your furnace, water heater and other permanent equipment elevated above the expected flood levels of your area.
Inspect sump pumps and drains regularly to ensure proper operation.
If you own a generator, have a licensed electrician provide a transfer switch to your sump pump so you can operate it in the event of flooding.
To help prevent sewage backup, have a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow valve.
Keep sandbags on hand to help divert unusually high water away from your foundation.
In snowy climates, flag drains to avoid plowing snow on top of them.
Learn the flood alert signals of your community.
Collect emergency building materials if you live in a frequently flooded area. These include plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, nails, shovels and sandbags.
Plan and practice an evacuation route. Designate a place for family members to meet in the event they become separated.
Review with all family members how to shut off utilities in an emergency.
Plan a survival kit with important documents, including insurance documents, medications and critical items in the event you need to leave your home.
Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information. If advised to evacuate, shut off all utilities and evacuate immediately.
Move to high ground, avoid rising waters and do not walk or drive through any floodwaters.
Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.
Promptly report the loss.
Listen to the radio and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
Be watchful of snakes that may have found their way into your home.
Throw away all food that has come in contact with floodwaters.
Remove standing water as quickly as possible, including from your basement. If your basement is flooded, pump out about 1/3 of the water per day to avoid structural damage.
Properly dry or remove soaked carpets, padding and upholstery within 24-48 hours after a flood to prevent mold growth. Discard anything that cannot be properly dried.
Wash and disinfect all areas that have been flooded. This includes walls, floors, closets, shelves, as well as heating and air-conditioning systems. Do not energize electrical or electronic equipment that may have suffered water damage without first having a qualified electrician inspect and/or test it.
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