RICHMOND — When it comes to floods, coastal areas are not the only places at risk. During Virginia Flood Awareness Week – March 8-14, 2020 – the State Corporation Commission (SCC) joins other local and state agencies in reminding Virginians to Know Your Risk. Protect Your Property. Get Flood Insurance.
Hurricanes and heavy rains are not the only culprits when it comes to flooding. Areas that experience other natural disasters, such as severe winter storms and wildfires, are equally vulnerable. Ice dams and snowmelt can cause flash floods. Lack of vegetation caused by wildfires can cause mudflows and floods.
“Floods can happen anywhere and anytime,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “All it takes is a few inches of water to cause major damage to your home and its contents.”
Homeowners insurance policies issued in Virginia typically do not provide coverage for damage to your home and property due to floods. However, the federal government does sell insurance for direct flood and flood-related damage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This federally-backed flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters and business owners, and offers separate coverage for structures and contents. Potential buyers should think about their flood insurance needs in advance as there is generally a 30-day waiting period before a new flood insurance policy takes effect.
No matter where you live, White encourages Virginians to assess their flood risk and protect themselves financially before the waters start to rise. “Without understanding your risk and knowing your insurance options, you might find yourself inadequately covered when you need coverage the most. Flood insurance is one of the best ways you can protect yourself financially against a flood, but the time to plan is now,” he said.
For more information about flood insurance, contact your insurance agent or the NFIP at 1-800-427-4661, or visit www.floodsmart.gov. Since some private insurers also offer their own flood policies, you can check with your insurance agent about the availability of a private flood insurance
policy. In either case, ask whether your flood policy provides coverage for your personal property.
Unlike homeowners insurance, auto insurance generally covers damage to a vehicle caused by flooding. However, the policyholder must have other-than-collision (also known as comprehensive) coverage on their vehicle. This coverage pays for damage to a vehicle from such things as fire, water, hail, vandalism, glass breakage, wind and falling objects.
The Bureau encourages Virginians to take steps now to protect their homes and property against floods and other disasters. Evaluate your risk; review your insurance coverage; create a home inventory of your belongings and store it with your insurance policies and other important documents in a safe place. To prepare for floods, elevate electrical and HVAC systems; seal foundation cracks; install drain plugs, sump pumps or backflow water valves; dry-proof your property with coatings and sealants, and grade your lawn away from your home.
Among the many publications offered by the SCC’s Bureau of Insurance are consumer guides regarding homeowners and auto insurance and disaster-related property insurance claims. For copies of the guides or answers to your insurance questions, contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Consumer Services Section by calling (804) 371-9185 in Richmond or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560. Copies of the consumer insurance guides are also available on the Bureau’s website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi.
For more information about floods and flood-related disasters, visit the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation website at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dam-safety-and-floodplains/floodawareness or the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website at https://www.vaemergency.gov/.