OLYMPIA – Storms and flooding have hit Washington state hard over the last month. Unless people have flood insurance, they may not be covered for any damage caused by the latest weather systems.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has advice for consumers hit by the storms and for people wanting to protect themselves in the future.
“Unfortunately, your typical homeowner or renter policy will not cover flood damage,” said Kreidler. “You must have a separate flood insurance policy. If you live in a flood zone, your lender may even require it, but if not, it’s up to you to make sure you’re covered.”
Flood insurance is sold through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you live outside of a high-risk flood zone, you might be able to get a lower rate.
NFIP sells two types of policies: building coverage and contents coverage.
Building coverage pays for flood damage to:
- Electrical and plumbing.
- Built-in appliances like an oven/stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator.
- Permanent flooring.
Contents coverage pays for flood damage to:
- Stand-alone appliances, including microwaves.
- Personal belongings.
- Washer and dryer.
Here’s what you should do if you have flood damage:
- Don’t attempt to drive through flooded roadways.
- Check for structural damage before re-entering your home or business. Flood-damaged buildings can collapse. Be cautious about gas leaks or energized wiring in flooded basements.
- Take photos or video to document the damage and make a list of lost or damaged items.
- Contact your insurance agent to notify them of the damage.
- If your car or other vehicle has damage, contact the agent or insurer for that policy.
- If you don’t have flood insurance, you may qualify for some federal emergency grants or loans.
- Talk to your insurer before making permanent repairs or disposing of damaged property.
- Save receipts from any mitigation efforts (sandbags, pumps, etc.) for possible insurer reimbursement.
- If you have to move, make sure your insurer or agent has a way to reach you.
- Save receipts for temporary repairs, temporary housing, food, etc.
Follow these links to learn more about the NFIP and finding flood insurance in your area. If you need help or have questions, you can contact the consumer hotline for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.