Flood Insurance may bail you out!

Where does all the water go?

It’s that time of year when the ground is saturated by snow melt and spring rain is on the way.  Where does all that water go when the ground can’t absorb anymore?  Hopefully not into your basement.  Many people hold the false belief that their homeowners insurance will cover any damage caused by water coming into the basement and destroying everything from the furnace and hot water tank to stored clothing, children’s toys, exercise equipment or furniture in your family room or man cave.  Unfortunately many policies exclude coverage for this type of loss.  You will need to purchase an additional policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Flood insurance may bail you out!

This additional policy can protect your most valuable or expensive possessions and depending on where you live, may be relatively inexpensive or cost a few thousand dollars a year.  Compare this premium to the cost of having to replace a furnace, a freezer, refrigerator or your washer and dryer if they are in the basement and destroyed by a “flood”.  Imagine how you would feel when the insurance company delivers the news that this wasn’t included in your homeowner’s policy.

You can’t wait until a potential flood is imminent to purchase the coverage.  Unless you are closing on a new home or refinancing a home, there is a 30 day waiting period from the time of your application to when the coverage actually goes into effect.

You should also know that flood insurance does not currently offer replacement cost protection for the dwelling or contents, so all settlements are based on “Actual Cash Value” or depreciated value.  So it is not as broad as your homeowners policy.

A common misconception is you have to live in a flood zone to get flood insurance.  That is not correct and in fact, many flood losses end up being outside of a flood plain.  The legal definition as established by the National Flood Insurance Program is:  A flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated with water or mudflow.  Anywhere it can rain, it can flood.  We have seen it happen several times in Erie.  Just because your property has not flooded in the past, does not mean it won’t flood in the future.

What does flood insurance cover?

It’s important to note that Flood Insurance will pay for damages if water enters your basement through the foundation wall or windows; however, there are some restrictions that come with the policy.  The policy will not pay for damage to your personal belongings such as furniture, clothing, etc. located in the basement.  In order for these items to be covered, they would have to be located on the first floor above the basement.

The policy will pay for damages to your furnace, hot water tank, freezer, washer and dryer because these items are typically found in the basement of homes.  The policy will also pay for damages to the structure.

How do you know?

Take a look at your homeowners policy to find out what is covered and what isn’t.  If you are unsure, contact your insurance broker for assistance in determining if you:

  • live in a high hazard flood insurance “zone” under the new mapping guidelines
  • have flood insurance
  • need flood insurance
  • obtain a cost of purchasing a flood insurance policy

For more information

Please don’t hesitate to call our office for assistance.  We’ve also prepared a short video to explain this in a little more detail.  Feel free to watch it here, or contact Ann Filipowski of or any member of our Personal Lines staff for assistance.  We can be reached at 814-833-5433 or toll free at 877-718-9935.