Flood damage not covered by standard homeowners insurance

Water is pumped out from a basement after it was flooded. After Sunday's storm wreaked havoc across Utah, it's a sad reality that, unfortunately, flood damage isn't part of many people's home insurance coverage. (Derek Petersen, KSL-TV)



SALT LAKE CITY — As Utahns dig out from the mud and muck following Sunday's heavy storm, it begs the question: who is going to pay for it all?

It is a sad reality that, unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don't realize until it's too late — flood damage isn't part of their home insurance coverage.

Insurance expert Michelle Megna with Insure.com said thousands of homeowners each year are shocked when they learn flood coverage is not included in their home's insurance policy.

It's confusing because some storm damage is typically covered, like damage that results from wind or a toppled tree. Certain water damage is also covered.

"One way to look at it is water that comes from the sky or above is covered," said Megna.

If rainwater got in through a leaky roof, that's covered. But if that same rainwater makes it to the ground and then floods in through a basement window or seeps in through the foundation, it's not covered, unless the homeowner has a special flood insurance policy.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which issues those policies, only 3% of Utahns have that special flood insurance.

FEMA puts out maps of high-risk flood zones, and the folks who live in those zones probably have flood insurance. But that's not where all floods happen, Megna said, not by a long shot.

"70% of the flooding in Utah is outside of hazard zones," she said.

Megna said the average cost of flood insurance is around $700 a year, which is certainly not nothing, but the average cost in damage after a flood is about $40,000.

"Flood insurance is one thing that you definitely want to look at because water claims are very common," she said.

If flood insurance is of interest to you, remember you can't wait until you see rain in the seven-day forecast. For a flood insurance policy to be good, it has to be in place for at least 30 days before the damage occurs.

Megna also said a home does not have to be in a flood zone to get flood insurance.

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Matt Gephardt

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