If you live in an apartment or rent your home, do you need renters flood insurance? You might be surprised to learn that even if you have renters insurance (and we think all renters should, as it’s a very affordable way to protect your belongings against all sorts of damage and loss), damage caused by flooding is usually not included. You might also be surprised to learn your landlord’s insurance will usually only cover damage to the building itself (and that’s assuming he or she has flood insurance), not damage to your personal belongings. You could lose everything you own in a flood. If you want to be protected, you’ll need to buy additional flood insurance.
If you live in an area that is considered to be at high risk for flooding, you probably do. Unless you can easily afford to replace all your belongings in the event disaster strikes, we recommend protecting yourself with flood insurance. You can find out whether your location is considered to be at high, moderate or low risk for flooding by checking the flood maps developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Even if you don’t live in a high-risk area, you might want to have flood insurance. According to Don Griffin, a vice president at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, one in four insurance claims for flood-related property damage comes from areas not considered to be at high risk.
So how do you decide if you should invest in flood insurance? We suggest you discuss your needs with your insurance agent. Take into consideration your level of risk based on where you live, the value of your belongings, whether or not you could easily afford to replace everything if it was destroyed in a flood, and how much renters flood insurance will cost you.
Premiums may vary from company to company, so sometimes it pays to shop around. If you have renters insurance, start by contacting the company from whom you purchase that. If you don’t have renters insurance but have auto or life insurance, contact the company from whom you purchase that insurance and ask about both renters insurance and flood insurance. Many insurance companies offer discounts if you purchase multiple policies from them. Of course, you can still shop around for the best rates.
If you have renters flood insurance, or even just regular renters insurance, contact your insurance company right away. Even if you think your renters insurance policy won’t cover the damage, you should report it to your insurance company right away just in case some of it may be covered. You have nothing to lose by contacting them.
If you’ve suffered flood damage and don’t have insurance that covers it, it’s too late to buy insurance for the current disaster but you can still buy insurance to protect yourself in the future. After you’ve dealt with the current crisis, we encourage you to look into it.
Remember, your landlord’s insurance usually will not cover damage to your personal belongings. However, in some limited instances, his or her insurance may cover part or all of the damage to your possessions, so it never hurts to check. Try to talk to the insurance company directly if you can instead of just asking your landlord, because he or she may not know the answer.
To deal with the current flood damage, you can contact a water damage contractor. An experienced professional will let you know if any of your belongings can be saved and how to properly clean and care for them. If you have flood insurance, the water damage contractor will assist you in filing your claim and dealing with your insurance company. If you don’t have flood insurance, ask your water damage contractor which insurance companies he or she finds easiest to work with and consider calling those companies to inquire about getting insurance after you’ve dealt with the flood damage.
Work closely with your water damage contractor to save and restore your belongings to the extent possible and to prevent serious problems like mold growth that will ruin belongings down the road. To find experienced water damage contractors in your area, just follow the link.
You can also contact your local Red Cross for information and assistance in recovering from a flood and you can find valuable information on the Red Cross website about preparing for and recovering from a flood.