It's tough to look at the flooding in Washington right now and not wonder if it could happen to your home. If it did, do you have the right coverage?
FEMA states that 90% of all natural disasters involve flooding in the U.S. But, only one in six U.S. homes are insured for flood, says the Insurance Information Institute, Triple-I. Flood damage is not covered by your standard homeowner's, renter's or business insurance policy.
"Homeowners who live near a flood zone or in a FEMA designated flood zone usually are required by their mortgage company to have flood insurance," said Janet Ruiz of Triple-I.
The National Flood Insurance Program, NFIP, says that there is a one-in-four chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage in high-risk areas.
Even if you are not in a designated flood zone, Triple-I says, "Consider buying a flood insurance policy if your house could be flooded by melting snow, an overflowing creek or pond, or water running down a steep hill."
Poor drainage, summer storms and neighborhood construction can cause flooding, too, FloodSmart.gov reminds. Ruiz says, "25% of floods happen in areas that aren't designated."
"From 2014 to 2018, policyholders outside of high-risk flood areas filed over 40 percent of all NFIP flood insurance claims and required one-third of federal disaster assistance for flooding," reports FloodSmart.gov.
Don't wait until flooding is imminent. Most policies have a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance kicks in.
Cost of flooding
It does not take much water to rack up the damage total. Floodsmart.gov estimates that just two inches of water across a one-story, 2,500 square foot home would cost almost $30,000 in damages. Five inches of water would cost the homeowner nearly $100,000 in damages.
You can purchase flood insurance through your insurance agent, and the policies are provided by both the federal government, the NFIP, and private insurers.
The NFIP covers the replacement cost of your home and the actual cash values of your possessions. Read the small print. Some furniture and valuables may not be covered if stored in a basement.
FOX Weather sat down with Ruiz Tuesday.
Does FEMA cover you in a flood?
FEMA disaster assistance becomes available after a Presidential disaster declaration. "If FEMA declares that a national disaster, then there could be help from FEMA up to about $35,000 for homeowners. Small businesses can go to FEMA for the small business loans, and those usually are up to about $150,000," says Ruiz.
According to CoreLogic, the flooding associated with Hurricane Ida alone caused an estimated $24 billion to 11 states. So far this year, FEMA has only reported nine flood Federal disaster declarations.
Cars are covered for flooding under the optional comprehensive part of auto insurance.
After a flood
After a flood, Ruiz warns of fraud, "Sometimes after these disasters, we see fraud. So do due diligence. Make sure they're licensed the same with anybody who comes in to help you with cleanup," warns Ruiz. "Don't give them cash. Don't give them too large of a down payment on it. You know, wait till the work is done to make the full payment. And again, keep your receipts because you may be able to get reimbursed from your insurance or from FEMA grant."