With extreme weather events on the rise, clients need to be prepared in the event flooding damages or destroys their property.
Whether your clients are worried about the risk of hurricane season or recent flash flooding, insurance agents should be ready to touch base with clients about how they can protect their homes. After all, floods can happen anytime, anywhere, which is likely why the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) ranks floods as the nation’s top natural disaster.
Properties don’t have to be within an official flood map to get damaged. The NFIP notes that 20% of claims are for structures standing outside a flood zone. What’s more, flood damage can be particularly expensive. Between 2010 and 2014, the average flood claim amounted to $42,000, the NFIP reports.
With this in mind, agents should take the time to sit down with clients, review their coverage, and talk common-sense tips that can help them mitigate any disaster. These five are a great place to start.
1. Know If Your Home is in a Flood Zone
Homeowners whose properties lie in a high-risk region usually need to purchase flood insurance. As the NFIP points out, however, even homes beyond those boundaries can face frequent flooding. Many of the homes flooded by last year’s Hurricane Harvey weren’t located in designated flood zones.
If a client thinks they don’t need a policy because their property has never been threatened by flooding, remind them that new construction may reroute water drainage patterns and that rainfall has been exceeding historical averages. Even during non-extreme weather events, this presents the risk of flooding.
2. Know Your State Laws
Depending on the state, your clients may not know whether their property has sustained water damage in the past. The Natural Resources Defense Council recently reported that 21 states do not mandate a seller tell a buyer the home had been flooded.
If your client recently purchased a home, they can research state laws on disclosure requirements so they know the flood risk for that property. If that information doesn’t have to be disclosed, then you may have to get creative by researching the flood history of nearby properties.
3. Know What’s Covered
An NFIP policy covers building damages and the loss of personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture, and electronics. However, structures outside the home like swimming pools and decks are excluded from coverage.
Clients should also know that the NFIP limits reimbursement funds to $250,000. If customers own property valued over that amount, they may want to pursue private flood insurance to supplement their NFIP policy.
4. Know How to Prepare
With adequate warning, your clients can prevent or reduce damage to their home by making necessary preparations. If they feel like they’re at risk of imminent flooding, they should consider the following:
- Inspect their homes for any areas where water can seep through and seal those entrance points immediately. They should also make sure that their sump pumps and drains are working properly.
- Protect important documents by storing them in a safe place or removing them from the property entirely. This should definitely include their homeowners and flood insurance policies so they know what’s covered and who they need to contact.
- Board up windows and doors with plywood if possible. Also, place sandbags around the foundation of the home to mitigate and redirect the flow of water.
5. Know What to Do During and After a Flood
Encourage your clients to put together an emergency flood plan that includes an evacuation route, supplies, and contact information. Once any immediate danger has subsided, they should wait for the official green light before returning home. When they do, they should survey their property for damages and immediately file a claim.
Dealing with the aftermath of a flood is never easy, especially since many consumers aren’t always aware of what flood insurance covers — and what it doesn’t. By preparing ahead of time, they’ll be making it easier to get the support they need to get their homes back up and running.