You’ve likely heard the expression:
“April showers bring May flowers.”
While that’s true, April showers also cause flooding.
Is your home protected with personal flood insurance in NJ?
Water and flood damage can be devastating to homeowners, not just in April, but year round.
Hurricane Sandy, which occurred in October 2012, caused 2 million households to lose power, and 346,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about flood insurance coverage:
What is Personal Flood Insurance in NJ?
Most general homeowners policies will not cover flood damage, which is why personal flood insurance in NJ is essential.
In 1980, just over 2 million homeowners had flood insurance. In 2017, that number has skyrocketed to over 5 million, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
While flood insurance is common for homeowners who live in coastal areas, near bodies of water or in what is defined as a flood plain, or a flood zone, with unpredictable weather patterns, it’s also recommended for homes that are not near water.
Insurance payouts have continued to rise as well, further highlighting how important and common this type of coverage has become.
But what does a flood insurance policy cover? What are the limitations?
We’ll “dive” into that next.
What Does Personal Flood Insurance in NJ Cover?
What is and is not covered by a personal flood insurance policy can be confusing.
Two of the most important components you should know if your policy covers are contents and building coverage. Often times, these will need to be separate policies.
Content coverage would include:
- Personal effects – clothes, collectibles, sport equipment and other valued personal items.
- Electronics – TV’s, speakers, phones, microwaves, portable air conditioners and laundry appliances.
- Furniture – couches, tables, chairs and curtains.
Building coverage can include:
- Water heaters, sump pumps and furnaces.
- Built-in appliances such as dishwashers, stoves and refrigerators.
- Bookshelves, cabinets and flooring.
- Walls and staircases.
- Detached garages.
- Solar equipment, fuel tanks and water wells.
What isn’t covered:
- The cause of the flood matters. For example, if sewer damage occurs but is not the result of a flood, it won’t be covered by personal flood insurance in NJ.
- Moisture, mold or mildew that could have been prevented.
- Temporary housing expenses.
- Financial loss due to lack of access to property or inability to conduct business.
- Items outside of the insured property such as sidewalks, trees and swimming pools.
- Paper materials such as money, stocks or bonds.
- Jewelry (unless you have separate coverage).
- Automotive vehicles (unless you have separate coverage).
- Basement contents (other than items such as your heater or sump pump, although new programs offer basement contents coverage)
Other Factors to Know
Federal Government National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was developed by FEMA. Its goal is to reduce the impact of flooding on both private and public structures. This program offers businesses, property owners and renters flood affordable insurance.
Excess Flood Insurance
NFP policies max out at $250,000. In order to get further flood insurance coverage, you’ll need to get an excess policy from an insurance agency. If you’re in a flood zone or a high flood risk area, consider adding excess personal flood insurance in NJ.
30-Day Wait Period
This is important! Your homeowners or renters insurance likely will not cover flood damage, and separate flood insurance policies usually take effect 30 days AFTER your purchase.
Floods are common, costly and can occur anywhere, so we recommend purchasing your policy well in advance to avoid unforeseen damage. By the time you hear a big hurricane or storm is coming, it will be too late to get coverage in time, and you’ll be stuck treading water.
Outside of having the proper personal flood insurance coverage in NJ, there are several ways you can prevent floods from causing major damage in your home that you can do before, during and after a flood occurs.
Before a flood:
- Have a sump pump system installed to remove water accumulation. Check to make sure it is functioning and has a backup power supply
- Place items such as tables, chairs and appliances on bricks or concrete blocks to keep them off the ground
- Store valuable items above ground
- Install flood detection alarms to alert you in case of an emergency
- Clean your gutters and drains to be free of leaves
- Get a roof inspection at least once a year
- Preventative landscaping helps minimize mudslides and flooding
- Check your home foundation and fill in cracks
During a flood:
- Keep calm and don’t freak out
- Turn off utilities
- Move valuables to higher elevation if you haven’t done so already
- Fill tubs, sinks and containers with water in case supply becomes contaminated
- Don’t try driving if water levels are rising
- Steer clear of down power lines
After a flood:
- Continue to stay calm
- Listen for updates on the radio
- Check for structural damage
- Don’t turn on the power until after an electrician inspection
- Photograph damage
- Inventory ruined items
- Be on the lookout for mold and other hazards
Now that we’ve “flooded” you with all this information, you should have a better idea of what flood insurance is, what it covers and who needs it. We also provided you with some additional factors to consider along with important steps to take in the event of a flood.