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2 months ago · by · 0 comments

Is Flood Damage Covered by My Home Insurance?

If your home suffers damage in a flood, don’t count on homeowners insurance being enough to protect you. A standard home insurance policy does not cover flooding that originates outside your home, although some types of water damage may be covered. To get coverage against flooding, you will need a separate flood insurance policy. Here’s what you should understand.

Homeowners Insurance and Flooding

Regular homeowners insurance won’t cover flooding, which is defined as flooding that originates outside of your home. This means your policy generally won’t cover flood damage due to:

  • Spring thaw flooding
  • Hurricane-related flooding
  • Overflowing and surging ponds, lakes, and rivers
  • Over-saturated ground
  • Flash floods
  • Backed-up sewers
  • Generalized flooding

Your homeowners insurance policy will help cover other types of water damage that are accidental and sudden, however. This can include a burst pipe, a leaking water heater, or a broken washing machine, for example, which can all flood your home with water. The distinction is these sources of water come from inside your home — not outside. Your policy still won’t cover the damage if it’s a result of poor maintenance such as failing to repair a leaking pipe.

The Importance of Flood Insurance

To cover your home against flooding, you will need to buy a flood insurance policy separate from your home insurance. Don’t assume that you don’t need flood insurance just because your home has never flooded, you don’t live near a body of water, or you aren’t in a flood zone. After all, floods don’t pay any attention to flood zones and they can occur anywhere. Hurricane Harvey left widespread flood damage in 2017 yet a whopping 70-80% of homeowners did not have flood insurance.

Don’t rely on flood zones alone when deciding whether you should buy flood insurance. Twenty percent of all claims to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) occur outside flood zones and people in these areas receive one-third of flood-related federal disaster assistance. The average flood damage claim is more than $62,000. Just five inches of water may cause at least $11,000 in damage to your home, according to FEMA. This is certainly not a cost you want to face out-of-pocket after a disaster. Flood maps in many areas are outdated and too conservative, especially in areas with significant new construction.

Flood insurance is required in high-risk designated flood zones but you have the option to purchase it even if you do not live in a flood zone.

Federal vs Private Flood Insurance

Flood insurance comes in two forms: you can buy a policy directly through NFIP, a federal program, or you can buy a private flood insurance policy through an insurance agent. A NFIP policy offers coverage up to $250,000 for your home and $100,000 for the home’s contents. It’s important to note that the NFIP only provides replacement cost coverage for your home itself. This means an NFIP policy will cover the amount needed to rebuild your home. Only actual cash value coverage is offered for your belongings. This means you only get the current value of your belongings, not the cost to replace the items.

A private policy can give you a higher coverage limit to supplement a federal policy or as a standalone policy. If you are outside of a designated flood zone or a federal policy would be too expensive, you can likely save a substantial amount with a private policy. Private flood insurance also offers more coverage for belongings with the option to schedule personal property like collectibles and high-value belongings.

If you are considering buying a flood insurance policy, don’t delay. Flood policies have a 30-day waiting period which means you won’t be covered if you buy coverage shortly before a disaster. If you live in an area that’s considered a low to moderate risk for flooding, you can qualify for very low premiums for flood coverage that can protect you if the unthinkable happens.

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5 months ago · by · 0 comments

What Claim Adjusters Look at When Processing a Claim

Making a claim against your auto or homeowners insurance will likely trigger a visit from claim adjusters. The adjuster acts as a go-between tasked with the responsibility of gathering information and reporting back to the insurance company for processing. Most adjusters in the modern era don’t have the authority to settle claims on the spot.

Settlement amount determinations are normally made by experienced claims reviewers employed by insurance companies. Since those reviewers are not capable of visiting every customer making a claim, insurance companies use adjusters to do the work. Claim adjusters are often contractors offering services to multiple insurance companies. On rare occasions they may actually be employed by the insurance companies they represent.

Auto Insurance Claims

The specific things claim adjusters look at differ depending on the types of claims being made. In the case of auto insurance, the adjuster begins by gathering information about the accident in question. He or she will want as many details as possible. The adjuster will want to know when the accident occurred, who was involved, the results of the accident, etc.

All of this preliminary information can be gleaned from interviews, police reports, and DMV accident reports in states that keep such records. An adjuster will sometimes review these records with the customer.

The adjuster’s investigation may require additional information as well. For example, adjusters may request access to medical records and wage information on accident claims that include personal injury damages. Even medical bills might be requested during the investigation.

A big part of the claims process is determining whether or not what the customers says happened is legitimate. This isn’t normally a huge problem for auto insurance, but fraud does occur from time to time. Adjusters are tasked with uncovering as much information as possible that might indicate a fraudulent situation. A final determination is ultimately made by the insurance company’s expert reviewer.

Homeowners Insurance Claims

When an incident involves homeowners insurance, the claim adjuster has to look at an entirely different set of data. At the top of the list is the actual damage being reported. Claim adjusters want to know what caused the damage, how much damage was actually done, and if any of the observed damage can be attributed to something other than what was reported by the customer.

For example, an insurance company will not be keen on paying the full value of a new roof if some of the post-hurricane damage cited actually existed prior to the storm. It’s up to the adjuster to sort out how much of the claimed damage is related to the named incident as opposed to other damage that previously existed.

Another part of the adjuster’s job is to determine liability. In short, liability describes how much the insurance company is required to cover based on the terms of the policy in question. The insurance company might not be liable if it turns out that a customer’s violation of the terms and conditions of that policy led or contributed to the damage.

Finally, the claims adjuster will look at the totality of the damage in question. This may imply damage to contents, other buildings on the property, etc. That peripheral damage will be considered by the insurance company in an attempt to come up with a reasonable settlement.

Fairness and Protection Are the Goals

The two most important goals of the adjuster are to protect the interests of the insurance company and be fair to the customer. This is a fine line to walk. A good adjuster wants the customer to be fully compensated as much as the terms of his or her policy allow. At the same time, the adjuster must protect the insurance company against inaccurate, inflated, or bogus claims.

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Cincinnati Family and
Business Insurance
910 Loveland Madeira Road,
Loveland, OH 45140

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