In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the devastation the superstorm brought to the East Coast, it’s important to highlight a commonly overlooked protection in Washington. Flood insurance, provided to property owners and renters by independent insurance agents and written through the National Flood Insurance Program, floats to the top as one of the two most overlooked coverages. Earthquake coverage is the other one.
Many Washington residents and business owners seem to think that flood insurance doesn’t pertain to them because we rarely see rising water outside the normal, flood-prone areas. What you may not know is how broad insurers define “flood” and how that same definition is used in your homeowner’s, renter’s or business property policy to exclude coverage from damaged caused by water outside the home.
Winter is coming and every year we hear from insurance shoppers who are upset with their current insurance company or agent because their home, renter’s or business property policy excluded damage that just occurred. Here’s where most of the misunderstanding comes from.
Flood, as defined by the policy, is overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, and mudflow. Because it is the most common and most misunderstood part of the policy, we’ll focus on the surface water part of the definition.
Would you agree we get a little wind in Washington? We also have quite a few trees with leaves that fall off when the weather gets cold … like now. And, what commonly accompanies wind and cold in Washington? Rain, that’s right. When we receive heavy rain along with wind and falling leaves, many of the storm drains in our streets get clogged and water starts to back up. Only a couple inches of water on the street can start finding its way to low points under basement doors, garage doors and any other tiny entry along the base of your home. Add snowmelt runoff to the above scenario and we have the perfect storm for a “flood.”
The damage caused from this type of localized flood situation is excluded from your home policy. If you own your property, you are 10 times more likely to suffer damage due to water than due to fire. As the most claim-making time of the season approaches us in Washington, take time to review your current renter’s, homeowner’s and business property policies to find out what is covered and what isn’t. Reviewing your policy after the damage happens is always a poor idea.
Do some research. You’d be surprised how inexpensive flood insurance can be in Washington.
For other questions about your business insurance, contact Paul Pukis at Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC at 425-320-4280 or SuperAgent@MosaicIA.com.