Know Your Risk
Check with the Planning Department to determine if your property is in a flood risk zone. If so, you need flood insurance. Flood insurance is not part of homeowners', mobile home or rental insurance policies. You will need to purchase separate coverage, which has a 30-day waiting period.
Even if you ARE NOT in a FEMA Designated flood risk zone, you may still want to consider purchasing flood insurance. you may qualify for the Preferred Risk Policy (a low-cost flood insurance policy) that provides contents coverage for as little as $39 per year and building and contents coverage for as little as $112 per year.
Determine your Storm Surge Risk – Updated maps from the Army Corps of Engineers, based on modeling updated after Hurricane Katrina, show that more of Chesapeake could be affected by Storm Surge than was previously thought. Refer to the County's Storm Surge Map to check your property.
Make sure you have the correct coverage
Unlike a standard homeowners policy, flood insurance covers losses to your property caused by flooding.
Some of the things a standard flood policy will cover include:
- structural damage
- furnace, water heater and air conditioner
- flood debris clean up
- floor surfaces such as carpeting and tile
You can also buy a flood insurance policy to cover the contents of your home, such as furniture, collectibles, clothing, jewelry and artwork.
Home Coverage and Preparedness Tips
- Check with your insurance agent to assure adequate coverage is provided by your homeowners' insurance policy. Remember to notify agents of any improvements or additions to the home.
- If your homeowners' insurance policy does not have wind/hail coverage, you will need to purchase separate coverage, which has a 15-day waiting period. Consult your insurance agent.
- Check with your local government's planning department to determine if your property is in a flood risk zone. If so, you need flood insurance. Flood insurance is not part of homeowners', mobile home or rental insurance policies. You will need to purchase separate coverage, which has a 30-day waiting period.
- Investigate purchasing replacement-cost coverage for your home and its contents. This option provides for the rebuilding or replacement of damaged property and belongings at current costs, rather than depreciated values.
- Check your policy for "loss of use" coverage. If you are required to seek temporary shelter due to a covered loss, such as a tornado, many policies will cover these expenses up to a certain amount. If your home is uninhabitable because of physical damage, most homeowners' policies will pay additional living expenses while your property is being repaired. Lack of power and water is not considered physical damage and, therefore, additional living expenses will not be covered.
- Consider constructing an underground or in-home shelter.
A Home Inventory Will Assist In Settling Claims
- It is important that you videotape, photograph or compile a written inventory of your home and belongings.
- Keep the inventory off-premises in a safety deposit box or with an out-of-the area contact. The inventory will provide a record for you and the insurance company should a loss occur.
- Go through each room of your home and list every item, including the purchase date, price, model and serial numbers, if applicable. Don't forget closets, the garage and the basement.
- Include the appraised value of antiques, jewelry and other costly possessions. Attach professional, written appraisals when necessary.
- Slowly pan the camera around the room in order to capture each item on film.
- Obtain close-ups of expensive items, such as jewelry, fine art, antiques, stamp collections, etc.
- Consider grouping items for easier inventory.
- Narrate the video by noting purchase cost and date, model and serial numbers on appliances and other appropriate items.
- Update your inventory every two-to-three years.
Automobile Coverage and Preparedness Tips
- If damaged by windstorms or hail, most vehicles are protected under the "other than collision" (comprehensive) portion of an automobile insurance policy. Check with your insurance agent to be certain of your automobile coverage.
- If severe weather threatens, move vehicles to covered area to prevent damage from high winds, flying debris and hail.
After the Loss - Insurance Tips
- Contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible and ask for instructions on what to do until your adjuster arrives.
- Begin preparing an inventory of personal property damaged or destroyed, and take pictures of the damaged property. Protect your property from further damage. Your reasonable expenses to protect your property are part of the loss and are generally reimbursed by insurance companies. Keep all receipts.
- Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on cost of repairs.
- Use reliable, licensed contractors for repairs. Do not pay in cash.
Estimate Flood Damages Based on Height of the Flood
FloodSmart.gov provides an interactive tool to estimate flood damages based on the height of the flood. For example, if you enter the water level in the house as six inches, it equates the approximate dollar amount of damages. It makes clear the benefit of flood insurance.