April showers bring… well, to be honest, flooding.
Face it, Pennsylvania may be partly landlocked (with apologies to the Lake Erie beaches) but it seems that every year around this time, we seem to take on an abundance of water. With dozens of major rivers and lakes – not to mention the countless streams and other sources, Pennsylvania homeowners must always keep an eye on rising water levels.
Flood insurance is often misunderstood. Don’t believe the stories that you have heard about how you can’t get insured if you live in a floodplain or a high-flood-risk area OR conversely if you live outside of a floodplain or a low-to-moderate-risk area. Even if your home has been flooded before or if your mortgage company doesn’t require you to be covered, you can still be insured. An insured homeowner will always have peace of mind when the banks begin to spill.
Whether you have building property coverage as a homeowner or personal property coverage as a renter, it’s important to understand what is and isn’t impacted.
According to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, the following items are insured under building property coverage:
· The insured building and its foundation
· The electrical and plumbing systems
· Central air-conditioning equipment, furnaces, and water heaters
· Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
· Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
· Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets
· Window blinds
· Detached garages (up to 10 percent of building property coverage); detached buildings (other than garages) require a separate building property policy
· Debris removal
Personal property damage coverage will insure the following:
· Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment
· Portable and window air conditioners
· Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers
· Carpets not included in building property coverage (see above)
· Clothes washers and dryers
· Food freezers and the food in them
· Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)
However it is important to also realize that there are things that are NOT covered either by building or personal property insurance. If your home has been damaged by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided with prior attention, those circumstances normally do not fall under the coverage. Nor are property or belongings outside of the building such as landscaping, walkways, septic systems, pools, or decks.
Basements can be tricky. While there are some exceptions for coverage in areas below the lowest elevated floor of your home, basement improvements like finished walls, ceilings, and floors as well as personal belongings and furniture kept there may not fall under the protection. If you are using an area under your first floor for storage, any loss connected to flooding will not be covered.
Flood insurance can be purchased through licensed property and casualty insurance agents in Pennsylvania. It is important to discuss your needs and get a full understanding of what is and is not impacted by your coverage.
Also, don’t forget that even though you may have a standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy, you are not covered by flood damages.
For more information on how you can benefit from flood insurance as well as a list of resources, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance at https://www.insurance.pa.gov/Coverage/Pages/Flood.aspx.
We all love the May flowers that these April showers bring but make sure your days are a whole lot brighter when you have the confidence that your investments are protected.
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