As part of National Flood Safety Awareness Week and in advance of the spring storm season, a survey commissioned by Allstate Insurance Company shows Americans may not be as familiar with their insurance policy as they should be, and therefore may have misconceptions that they have flood coverage when they don't.
The survey of residents with homeowners and renters insurance from various companies shows 44% of Americans believe they are covered for weather-related floods. But when asked whether they actually have a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), only 15% admit to having specifically purchased a supplemental flood policy.
"Results indicate that there is a knowledge gap among some Americans who believe they are covered in the case of flood, but in actuality, are not covered," said Mark Green, senior vice president, Allstate. "Unfortunately, we have seen this scenario play out following a number of major disasters. Some people believe flood is part of their standard homeowner policy and sadly, don't realize they need a separate flood policy until it's too late."
Flood insurance is offered through the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program and policies are sold and managed by private insurance companies like Allstate.
Allstate reminds Americans that now is the time to prepare for floods and consider their flood insurance needs. Floods are the #1 natural disaster in the United States. The average flood loss cost is $30,000 for homeowners and $75,000 on commercial property according to the NFIP. Add to that the fact that floods can happen anywhere and in all 50 states. Nearly 20% of flood claims come from moderate to low-risk flood zones.
Besides educating yourself on flood, Allstate recommends reading through your insurance policy and if you have questions about coverage call an insurance agent. Here are a few other things property owners can do to help prepare, courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety:
- Keep drains, gutters and downspouts clear of debris.
- Prepare an evacuation plan with a kit that includes insurance documents, medications and critical items in case you need to leave your home for a few days.
- Inspect sump pumps and drains regularly to ensure proper operation.
- Have a licensed electrician raise electric components at least 12 inches above the expected flood levels for your area.
- To prevent sewage backup, have a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow valve. Make sure your yard's grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
- Have the installation of your furnace, water heater and other permanent equipment modified so that they are elevated above the expected flood levels for your area.
The tips provided here are guidelines. Please use your best judgment when evaluating your flood preparation needs. For more ways to prepare, respond and recover from a flood, visit the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety website.
The study was based on telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 residents with homeowners or renters insurance, age 18 years and older across the United States. Interviews were conducted May 16-17 & 19, 2012, and the survey has a margin of error of+ 3.1% at the 95% confidence interval. The survey investigates Americans' attitudes, opinions and experiences about how well prepared and covered they are in the case of a natural disaster striking. The survey was conducted by FTI Consulting for Allstate.