When you hear the word “flood,” what do you think? Most people probably picture rushing waters running through the streets, covering houses and piling up cars, trucks and trash all along the way. Sure, that’s a flood but in the insurance industry the term “flood” means something different.
In the insurance industry, the term “flood” refers to water that comes in over the top of the ground, while “water backup” generally refers to water entering your home through floor drains. Assuming that you’re covered for water damage is a faulty assumption. Your basic homeowners insurance policy likely doesn’t cover “floods” or “water backup.”
Flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy and limited coverage for water backup may be added to your homeowners policy as a separate endorsement. If your home is not in a flood zone (and most houses in Jacksonville aren’t) your insurer will not require that you carry flood insurance but you should consider getting it anyway.
Protect your valuables by keeping them several inches off the floor and use plastic storage containers to store important papers and other items that could suffer water damage. There is a 30 day waiting period before flood insurance policies take effect so plan accordingly. Review you specific needs with your insurance agent to determine if you should get flood insurance and/or the availability of optional water backup endorsements to your policy
While it has been a long time since Jacksonville received a direct hit from a hurricane, we do have our fair share of wind storms, tornadoes, etc. High winds can produce obvious effects such as roof/shingle damage, falling trees, broken windows. They can also produce some less obvious problems such as downed power lines, rain water blown into house through cracked windows or openings in roof and soffit not affected by normal rainfall.
After a storm passes, stay away from tees or limbs on the ground until you are certain there are no downed power lines in the way. Be very cautious of “contractors” going door to door offering their services – many are not licensed and insured. Be sure to contact your claims adjuster immediately to make sure you comply with all terms of your policy before doing anything.
Did you know that lightning is responsible for more than $400 million in property damage each year in the United States. And did you know that Florida is the lighting capital of the USA? Chances are you know someone who has been struck by lightning or has suffered property damage resulting from a strike. Lightning strikes are most common during the months of June through August… right around the corner.
Whole house surge protectors can provide effective, though not foolproof, protection against lightning strikes. Computers and other electronic devices are especially vulnerable to power surges. Protect your important files and photos with frequent backups to an external hard drive and to a cloud based location and definitely use a surge protector too.
Yep… those ice cubes falling from the sky can cause a great deal of damage. Just ask anyone who lives in Oklahoma! In fact, hailstones cause between $1.2 billion to $2.4 billion in damage each year. Hailstones from the same storm can vary in size, shape and density. So even what seems to be a light hailstorm could have hailstones mixed in that are large enough to cause roof damage, car damage, broken windows and more. While hailstorms can be fascinating to watch, make sure you take care to protect yourself and your property.
Just as with wind damage, be sure to work with your insurer to make sure you are covered for all repairs done. If you encounter a hailstorm while driving, find a safe place to pull off the road as quickly as possible. A moving vehicle suffers more damage from hail than a stationary one.