Insurance after Flooding. Is it Too late?

Is it too Late After Flooding to Worry about Flood Protection?

Be Safe. Know the flood zones, plan an escape route, stockpile water, food, and medicine. Prepare beforehand to get the best result from flood insurance.

A flood is so potentially damaging that no private insurance company could remain in business to cover flood damage. The government is the only entity large enough to offer flood insurance, supported by tax dollars.

Flood is a general inundation of normally dry land from rising water from overflowing sources, whether driven by wind or not. Private insurance excludes flood damage. Water that comes in backward through the sewers can be included in a homeowner’s insurance policy for an additional premium.

In the US, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supervises flood insurance policies. FEMA has no insurance agents; all local insurance agents are licensed to sell flood insurance. FEMA also handles flood disaster adjustments, frequently through insurance agents, too.

The Governor must request flood Disaster designation status of the State to the US President. After he makes the declaration, the Department of Homeland Security notifies Alltech/Parsons Brinkerhoff (PB), under direct contract to FEMA since 1995, to handle the damage adjusting. PB has trained and subcontracted adjusters to complete damage inspections and report their findings back to FEMA.

The Likelihood of Flooding is Quite Predictable.

  • FEMA has prepared flood maps of the entire United States and assigned flood zones of probability. The base elevation is for a 1% chance of flood or a flood every 100 years. Since this is a historical average, it is possible to be flooded yearly (Henderson, NV had a 100-yr flood in 1979, 1980, and 1981. They should skip a century or two in the next 10,000 years or so). No house can be purchased without checking its flood zone.
  • When standing in the front or back yards, do the neighboring houses rise above or fall away from the property? Will water move toward or away from the premises?
  • Has there been flooding in the past? Stories of previous generations living in the house, getting flooded out but rebuilding, don’t show tenacity. Madness is doing the same thing over and over, looking for a different result. History tends to repeat itself.
  • Watch weather reports for strong storm warnings. Flood season will get a lot of air-time by the meteorologist.

What Preparations to Make Before the Floods

  1. Live in a home in a safe place. Local building departments advise the elevation above sea level that will lessen the likelihood of flood damage. If possible, bring in fill soil to raise the home to a safer height before it is constructed.
  2. Tax dollars are spent by communities to improve flood control facilities. Be aware of what flood projects are being planned and finished.
  3. Buy flood insurance. It is available for homeowners and renters for a couple of hundred dollars per year. Flood insurance reimburses for more damages than does federal disaster coverage.
  4. Litter clogs storm sewers. Dispose of trash that can blow or wash into drains. Sweep up existing litter in drains occasionally. For bad litter, call city hall to report the need for cleanup.
  5. Plan an escape route that will not need to cross high water crossings.
  6. . Half of all drowning occurs in those cars. If the road is not visible, it is too deep to attempt to cross.
  7. When the streets and the streams fill up, stay out of the water. Not only is it unsanitary, but swamp creatures may have come to live in it. To them, people are food.
  8. Have food and adequate water and medicine on hand for a few days. It must be kept above the level of expected damage to remain edible. Include food for pets, too. Watch for spoilage during the flood, and try to keep it away from vermin that also will be hungry.
  9. Heat and electricity may go out. Indoor fires risk carbon monoxide poisoning, so ensure the flame is ventilated. Lanterns and candles risk fire but are perfectly safe with a little care.
  10. Most businesses will close, and banking will get difficult. Have some cash on hand to purchase necessities as they become available. Use credit and debit cards when the power and internet come back on.
  11. Civil authorities may evict residents from flooded homes. Have a place to go and let someone know of the change of address. Carry some photo ID for each member of the family.

What to Do After the Flood

Begin to clean up. Separate damaged property from undamaged items and begin making lists for insurance adjusters. They are trained to visualize an accurate picture of a home from clues. If there is a need to keep a damaged item until an adjuster has seen it, add it to a “retain” pile. Otherwise, keep a time card on work accomplished; labor is often insurance-reimbursable.

The goal now is to get life back on track quickly.

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