Home flooding may not be something you’ve considered to be a serious risk to your home and possessions. For instance, something as small as a pipe breaking under your bathroom sink could cause upwards of $1,000 in damage after just 30 minutes of leaking.
FEMA reports anywhere from $376,000 to $12,000,000 being paid in claims by insurance companies for total flood damage cost per year between 2006 and 2015. With flooding being the No. 1 insurance claim in America, you might wonder how you can avoid your home becoming a statistic and your life being disrupted for up to several months at a time.
We’ll get to that in a moment, but first let’s look at what happens when your home floods.
When a Flood Happens…
Insurance is going to be your first financial line of defense against a flood. We recommend you visit with your insurance agent and make sure you have the proper coverage, first. If not, the cost of flooding, even a small flood, could be financially devastating. Having the right amount of coverage, including the lowest deductible you can afford, for your risk will help prevent this.
Next, there will be contractors in and out of your home repairing the damage. This may require you moving out for a time, perhaps even into a hotel for a week, a month, or even longer if you have Loss of Use coverage. (Check with your insurance agent to make sure you have this coverage on your homeowner’s policy.)
Special provisions on an insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can also give you up to $250,000 in disaster and other situations, so that can also help you overcome denied claims. FEMA grants up to $32,000 are also available to those in disaster zones, but be warned: these claims can take a long time to process before you receive a check.
Then there’s replacing your possessions. While it may not seem like a big deal right now, obtaining new furniture and clothing can be more of a pain than you might think. Statistics vary on how much these replacements can cost, but remember that your furniture and possessions depreciate, or lose value, over time. Some insurance policies will replace these items outright, if you’re willing to pay a little more; however, some or all of your items may only be covered by an “actual cost value” clause, meaning the insurance company will only write a check for retail value minus depreciation, or basically what it would sell for on a thrift store shelf undamaged. This can be a 50% deprecation, or even more, depending on the items in question.
Sadly, some losses aren’t covered at all, and home-flooding claims can be denied. Such an unexpected cost could require going into debt or even selling your home if you don’t have enough savings, and with the average flood claim being $42,000, many people may have to get a home equity loan, a second mortgage, or other borrowing options to pay for the damages, given that a little less than half of Americans can’t even handle an unexpected $400 expense. In the worst case, you may even have to sell your damaged home to try to recover costs and hope for the best.
How to Mitigate or Even Prevent a Flood
What safety precautions are there for floods? There is some newer technology in the home automation market that senses water and general moisture. When water is present, smart detectors can have an alert sent directly to your smartphone.
While this technology certainly won’t prevent an old water heater from leaking water, pipes bursting because of cold weather or rising rainwater from coming into your basement, it will certainly give you a head’s up and the needed time to take proper action to prevent serious damage happening to your home and belongings. Taking control of your home with the right home automation system could help you prevent a serious insurance claim and give you the peace of mind to know that you’re protected from a more serious loss than is necessary.