Are you properly insured for the water damage that spring storms can bring?

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Spring storm season is right around the corner. Are you properly insured for the water damage that spring storms can bring? Bel Air News & Views sponsor Chip Schilling of Northern Chesapeake Insurance Services  continues his Q & A series of best insurance advice with this week’s look at flood insurance and water/sewer backup coverage. Wondering whether you need it or not? Read on. For more information, contact Chip at 410-420-3080 or chip@ncins.net. Like Northern Chesapeake Insurance Services on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NCINS to find Chip’s regular postings about insurance issues and tips.

FAQ-FLOOD INSURANCE AND WATER/SEWER BACKUP COVERAGE

Imagine you’re home relaxing, when you hear the local weatherman advise that your town is under a severe thunderstorm and flash flood warning — again! You pause and wonder “Will my home and business be covered if I have flood damage?”

Q: Will my standard homeowners’ or business policy provide coverage for flood damage?
A: NO! Neither the standard homeowners’, nor commercial, nor renters’ nor condominium policy provides coverage for water damage due to flood, for either the building or personal property.

Q: What is flood insurance?
A: In simple terms, flood insurance covers direct physical losses caused by floods, flood-related erosion, severe rainstorms, flash floods, hurricanes and snow melt. Flood insurance is offered under a Federal government program know as the National Flood Insurance Program.

Q: If flood insurance is offered under a Federal program, can I still purchase it using my own insurance agent?
A: Yes. You can purchase flood insurance directly through your agent, the very same way you purchase your home, life and car insurance.

Q: What coverages are included under a standard flood insurance policy?
A: There are two separate aspects/types of flood insurance coverage: (1) building property and (2) personal property, each of which is purchased separately (you are encouraged to purchase both types of coverage).

Building property coverage protects the structure, and generally covers:
* The insured building and its foundation
* The electrical and plumbing systems
* Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces and water heaters
* Refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances, such as dishwashers
* Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
* Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases and cabinets
* Detached garages (up to 10 percent of building property coverage). Detached buildings (other than garages) require a separate building property policy
* Debris removal

Personal property coverage generally covers:
* Curtains
* Personal belongings, including clothing, furniture and electrical equipment
* Portable and window air conditioners
* Carpets not included in building property coverage
* Washers and dryers
* Food freezers and their contents
* Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs

Q: I’ve heard the price of flood insurance can vary widely. Is this true?
A: No. Flood insurance rates are determined and set by the Federal Government, so price shopping and price comparison are unnecessary.

Q: My home isn’t located in a high risk flood zone. Why would I need flood insurance?
A: Flooding can affect you even if you don’t live near water. Approximately 25% of all claims are from what are considered low-to-moderate risk areas. If your home is located in a low-to-moderate risk area, you may be eligible for a lower cost Preferred Risk Policy.

Q: Can I purchase flood insurance immediately before a flood occurs, or when it is occurring?
A: Normally, there is a 30 day waiting period before a flood policy become effective, but there are exceptions, which your independent agent can explain.

Q: Is flood insurance only available to homeowners?
A: No. Flood insurance is also available to renters, and condominium and business owners.

Q: Does my homeowners’ or business policy cover me for a sewer/drain backup, or sump pump failure?

A: NO! However, Maryland insurers must offer this coverage as an “add-on” to their policies (during initial application and at each renewal), which can cover the cost of damages and clean-up after this type of event

Q: How do I know what I should do?
A: Making such a decision about your options is yours — and yours alone under the law. As your independent insurance agent, I can help explain these options. Our agency’s job is to help provide you with information, so you can make informed decisions.