By Dena Shepherd Page
Question from Nick T. of Carmel:
Spring is right around the corner and it’s got me thinking about rising water. I’ve only lived here for a couple of years, but I live about half a mile from the river. Do I need a flood policy?
Response from Dena Shepherd Page:
Most of Hamilton County sits in a moderate-to-low risk area when it comes to flood risk (you can check your risk at www.floodsmart.gov). Preferred rate policies are the lowest premiums available through the National Flood Insurance Program. This policy will protect your house and its contents starting as low as $129 per year. It takes 30 days after purchase for a flood policy to take effect, so don’t wait until the water starts rising.
The first thing you need to know about flood insurance is what the policy covers. A flood insurance policy will protect your property from flooding accompanying hurricanes, heavy rains and melting snows. A standard homeowners policy specifically excludes coverage for all these things. Some insurance carriers will add flood coverage with an endorsement to your homeowners policy, but usually you will have to purchase a separate policy.
The other thing you need to know about flood insurance is what it doesn’t cover. Flood insurance doesn’t cover water that rises up through your plumbing. This type of loss is protected by using an endorsement to your homeowners policy called sewer and drain backup. A loss from sewer and drain backup can be just as damaging as a flood loss.
Sewer and drain backup coverage is a simple endorsement you may already have included on your homeowners policy right now. Standard coverage usually starts with limits of $5,000. If you have a finished basement, $5,000 is definitely not going to get you back to where you would like to be. We usually recommend upgrading coverage to $10,000 – $25,000 to make sure you are adequately covered. Higher limits are definitely available. The cost of this endorsement varies by carrier, but is usually a very low percentage of the total cost of your policy.
The steps you can take to prevent flood claims are pretty easy and you’re probably already doing them. First, make sure your sump pump is working and has an adequate battery-powered backup, in case it loses power. Next, make sure your gutters and downspouts are free and clear of debris and obstructions. Lastly, make sure your downspouts are getting water far enough away from the house that the water is not returning.