What to consider when it comes to insurance
Making sure you have the right insurance for storm damage can be a challenge. Here are some important things that experts say you should keep in mind.
1. Act now. The first thing you need to know about flood insurance is that since it's hurricane season and most insurance policies don't kick in for 30 days after signing up, the time to act is now.
Most property insurance policies, including homeowner's and rental protection, don't cover flooding, the nation's No. 1 disaster with $2.4 billion in damage annually. Over the four years ending in 2012, the average award for damages was $30,000.
The state Department of Insurance has numerous resources available for businesses, homeowners and renters: www.ct.gov/cid/
2. Read the map. The Federal Emergency Management Agency strongly recommends you review the updated flood-zone map for your property and the neighborhood around you. All you need is your postal Zip Code.
3. Know your coverage. If your sewer backs up and it's not the result of flooding, don't expect coverage. Typically, flood insurance covers buildings, foundations, electrical and plumbing, furnaces, water heaters and air-conditioning, appliances, original artwork up to $2,500, curtains, permanently installed paneling and cabinets, detached garages and debris removal.
4. What's not covered? These items typically are not covered by policies:
Damage from mildew or mold that a property owner could have prevented.
Personal property that can be insured separately.
Cash, stock certificates and precious metals, such as gold coins.
Garden shrubs, septic tanks, patios, boat docks, fences, hot tubs and swimming pools.
Temporary housing expenses.
Cars and motorcycles.
Basement coverage is usually limited and depends on the age of a building and flood-zone rating. Detailed information is available at: www.floodsmart.gov
5. Update your coverage. FEMA warns that even homes in low-risk areas can experience flooding. Those property owners who are already members of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and even have private supplemental coverage should review their policies for possible updating.
High-risk areas stand a 25 percent chance of flooding during an average 30-year mortgage cycle, and property owners there are required to have flood insurance.
But moderate to low-risk areas, which are not required to obtain flood insurance, submit more than 20 percent of insurance claims and get one-third of disaster assistance through the NFIP, which recommends flood insurance for all property owners and renters. More information is available at www.floodsmart.gov.
6. Rates reflect risk. The NFIP offers a list of the nation's leading insurance companies that provide coverage at uniform rates established by the program, based on location of the property under consideration and local zoning regulations on floodplain management.
7. Plan ahead and build smart. Insurers recommend some simple, logical changes to home and business construction.
Choose wood over drywall for baseboard wainscoting.
Use area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting; this allows you to roll up floor coverings if flooding is predicted.
Put electric outlets higher up on walls to prevent contact with flood waters.
Store important records in water-tight plastic bins or on floors higher up in the building.