Money Matters: Should you buy flood insurance?

August 12, 2016 01:30

Flooding pops up in the news on a regular basis. Some happens in coastal areas, some on lakes, some on rivers. But just because your house isn't along a body of water, doesn't mean you're not at risk. Flooding happens every year in areas not necessarily prone to flooding. A heavy downpour of rain from six to twelve inches or rain or more can happen anywhere, causing flash flooding and overwhelming local creeks and storm drains. In newly developed areas, pavement covering more ground gives water fewer places to go. And it can happen with rapid snow melt, or when water mains break, if pools overflow, when sump pumps fail, and more.

As Consumer Reports explains, most traditional homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. About 20 percent of flood claims are made in areas of low to moderate risk. If you're not covered, you'd be responsible for cleanup and repair costs if your basement fills with water that seeps in after a heavy rain, or flash flooding reaches your property. And if you get flood insurance through available federal programs, only essential systems such as your furnace and water heater would be covered under basic plans. You would need to buy additional coverage for furniture and other belongings.

To help your readers/listeners/viewers learn about flood insurance, you can visit to find local agents in your area who offer flood insurance. Interview one or two of them to learn about the options and estimated costs for typical homes in your market. Ask them about what is and is not covered by standard homeowners insurance, government-backed flood insurance, and privately offered flood insurance, to highlight the differences. Also, review the areas in your market at greatest risk for flooding and show how rates can vary based on risk.

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Karin Price Mueller of New Jersey Advance Media entered the 2015 NEFE/RTDNA awards contest with her series of reports called Bamboozled, about scams and how to protect yourself.


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