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Sonoma County Gazette
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Residents survey Russian River floodwaters after a 2005 storm. Photo: Jessica Merz/Flickr

Post Flood Thoughts: Insurance Lessons and Planning

Apr 30, 2019


By Fawn Nekton

As most, if not all, of you know by now, flood damage is not covered by your home or business owners policy. Insurance companies began excluding flood damage in the 1960’s and the trend continued and extended so that today nearly all property policies exclude flood and flood-related damages.

In response, the federal government and the lending and insurance industries created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to address the coverage gap.  Lenders now require that you purchase flood coverage if you’re in a primary flood zone.

That’s good news for many people who might not have purchased coverage had they not been required to do so. However even the folks with flood insurance are finding that it’s not going to cover all of their losses.

Here are some VERY important things to know about these policies:

  • Contents coverage is not included, you must purchase it in addition to the building coverage.
  • There is no coverage for loss of use, loss of rents, or loss of income due to flood damage.
  • There is no coverage for pools, spas, hot tubs, or decks (other than what’s required by code to access the building).
  • There is limited coverage for detached garages, and no coverage for any other type of detached structure (granny units, sheds, barns)
  • There is no coverage for landscape, trees, outdoor furniture, propane tanks, or fences.
  • If you have an elevation certificate and are paying a reduced rate based upon the “elevated living area” there isn’t coverage for the stuff (contents) below that elevated area.
  • If you’ve been paid for flood damage you need to keep proof of the repairs or you won’t be able to claim those losses again in the future.  Be sure to keep good records of all the repairs you make and receipts for any property you replace.  
  • Flood claims follow the property, not the property owner, so if your property has a history of flood claims before you purchased it, you’re still going to need to know about those prior claims and the repairs that were made after the flood.
  • There is no coverage for moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner.

So, that’s an outline of what isn’t covered. But there are a few things that are covered that you might not be aware of:

  • Flood loss avoidance is included in all flood policies and will cover up to $1000 in reasonable expenses incurred to protect policyholders’ insured property and up to $1000 to move property to safety.
  • Expenses to protect your property includes things like sandbags, water pumps, sheeting and lumber and the labor used in connection with any of these items. 
  • You may claim labor for yourself and family members at the federal minimum wage. You may also pay others at the same wage.
  • Expenses to move your property to safety includes labor and storage costs up to $1000.
  • Keep in mind that it must be placed in a fully enclosed building or otherwise protected from the elements and stored above ground level.
  • There is no deductible for either of these $1000 coverages
  • Property removed is covered by your flood policy for 45 days from the date of moving it (just in case you move it to another location that also ends up flooding-which has totally happened!).
  • Most NFIP policies include Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) Coverage which applies when flood damages are sever. It provides up to $30,000 of the cost to elevate, demolish, or relocate your home if it’s “substantially damaged” or “repetitively damaged” by a flood. This coverage doesn’t increase your limits.
  • If  you have contents coverage, the coverage also applies to contents located in an outbuilding (regardless of the elevation of that building)
  • Excess flood policies are available for higher value homes that need more coverage than the $250,000 offered through NFIP.
  • Excess flood policies will also offer higher contents coverage than the $100,000 available on the NFIP policy.

As always, if you’ve got questions about your policy or you want to get a flood insurance quote feel free to contact our office. We’re here and our door is open.  Call us at 707-874-2666, stop by our office in Occidental, visit or find us at our social media sites @opendoorins

Ps: Next month let’s talk about the cost of flood coverage- shall we?


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