ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, May 26, 2016—The persistent rain that has recently saturated most of the East Coast can create property damage, flooding and other hazards that may not be covered under standard homeowners insurance policies. Many consumers will be surprised to learn that common problems resulting from the spring weather may drain their wallets.
“Consumers and businesses should work with knowledgeable, experienced Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents to determine what their greatest exposures to loss may be and what insurance policy is most appropriate to address their specific, unique insurance needs,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, education and research. “Despite advertising that all too often implies that the only difference between insurance policies is the price, the reality is that these insurance contracts may significantly vary.”
Homeowners should consider buying a separate flood insurance policy. Most floods are excluded in homeowner policies and the exclusions apply to more than just the overflow of bodies of water. Virtually any water damage that originates on the surface or underground may be excluded, for example:
SEEPAGE OF UNDERGROUND WATER: Most water exclusions would likely apply to run-off and standing water from heavy rains, along with seepage of underground water into basements and crawl spaces due to ground soil saturation or overloaded underground aquifers. In these instances, homeowners need a separate flood policy to ensure that they are covered for widespread surface water accumulations. Even then, the episode would have to meet the appropriate definition of flood.
LEAKY ROOF: Read your policy. Some homeowners policies will cover interior damage caused by a roof leak if reported promptly. However, many other policies require that the structure be breached by a weather condition such as a windstorm before interior water damage from rain is covered. For business owners, most commercial property policies do require this structural damage before coverage applies. A Trusted Choice® agent can help navigate these tricky situations and dissect the fine print.
SEWER AND SEPTIC BACK-UPS: Heavy rains may cause sewer and septic backups. Most sewer backup endorsements (an add-on to a standard insurance policy) exclude backup due to flooding conditions that typically cause reverse flow. Buildings with septic tanks pose expensive risks too. When line fields become saturated, septic outflow lines are unable to discharge and this could cause septic backup into homes and businesses. It’s important to discuss this with your independent insurance agent.
TOPPLED TREES: One of the dangers of saturated soil from heavy rain is that trees may topple. When this happens, usually most of the entire root ball is exposed when the tree falls. If a tree strikes a structure on the premises due to a covered peril on the policy (such as a windstorm), the resulting structural damage is usually covered along with the cost to remove the tree from the premises. However, it may not be covered if the proximate cause of the damage is only ground water saturation.
The harsh winter and heavy spring rains have left their mark on many roads. The recent deluge has presented challenges in filling thousands of potholes. When it rains, the potholes fill with water and become even more difficult for drivers to spot, particularly on highway on- and off-ramps. Fortunately, most vehicle damage from potholes is covered by the physical damage portion of an auto insurance policy. More information about the extent, hazards and costs of pothole vehicle damage is available at independentagent.com
“It is imperative that consumers take time to address these issues now as hurricane season officially begins June 1 and other summer storms approach,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents are available to review coverage and offer guidance for policyholders who may encounter problems from all the rain.”
Trusted Choice® was launched by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) and several independent agency companies to highlight the benefits independent agencies and brokerage firms offer consumers—choice of companies, customization of policies and advocacy support. It is the premier consumer brand for independent insurance agents and provides national advertising and other strategic tools to reach consumers.
Trusted Choice® educates consumers about the benefits of using independent agents and brokers for their insurance needs: choice of companies, customized policies and advocacy support. Trusted Choice® is the consumer marketing identity for approximately 26,000 independent insurance agencies and brokerage firms and 70 leading insurance companies. For more information, go to www.TrustedChoice.com.