Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Insurance check up

I work on-call with the federal government doing damage assesments following natural disasters. This is the season when I review water damage. I see home after home where the owners thought they were fully covered only to find out they have zero coverage.
When water enters your home, HOW it got there is critical to your coverage. If it seeps in because the sump pump broke, could not keep up or had no power you may not be covered. If the floor drain backs up and lets sewerage into your home, you may not be covered. Check your policy or call your agent to be sure you have coverage for these types of common occurrences.
If your yard does not drain away properly or maybe your neighbor's yard drains towards your home you probably are not covered. When a severe storm hits the run off will be more than normal. If the water breaks a window or finds another way in, it is overland run off and that is not covered under most policies.
Is there a river or stream anywhere near your home? Rising water/flood is not covered under your typical policy. You may need to buy flood insurance under the federal program. Your agent can help you buy this coverage.
Recently I heard of a neighborhood lake that has not been maintained for the past 40 years and the owner does not have the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to fix the dam. The owner does not have the liability coverage or assets to fix the damage if the dam fails. There are 25 homes below the dam that are at risk of flooding and have no coverage unless they buy flood insurance on their own. No one advised them or their insurance companies of the risk. The only ones who are certain to have any protection are the ones who bought flood insurance.

Wet basement woes?

The spring rains are about to start and sometimes that results in water in your basement. While you are out doing the spring clean up in your yard take a good look at the foundation. Much of the time the cause for your wet basement is a drainage issue. When your home was built the builder put soil back against the foundation, but over time that soil compacts. If you measure 10' out from the foundation the soil should slope down 6". Rarely do I see this much slope. Also remember to make sure the downspouts are extended out 10' from your home. If the water is being dumped next to the foundation it simply runs down the side of the basement and seeps in. One more thing to check is that the gutters and downspouts are clean and not clogged after the fall leaves. If they are not running freely the water just overflows and, once again, runs down the side of your basement and seeps on in.
You can save yourself a costly repair bill if you take a few minutes to be sure the water is being directed where it is supposed to go---AWAY from your home.