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Flood/water damage

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Flood/water damage

Flood/water damage

Severe weather, flooding, and interior water leaks each pose their own risks. Underst anding the different ways water damage can occur helps you take the right steps to protect your property, which includes purchasing the right insurance coverage.

Underst anding causes of water damage.

While fire may be a common concern among homeowners, Travelers claim data suggests that homes could be as much as 10 times more likely to be damaged by water than by fire.

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    Water damage to property can come from many sources with weather-related moisture or flooding being one significant source: leaking roofs, blocked gutters and downspouts leading to foundation and siding damage, ice dams; flooding from heavy rains, flash floods, dam and levee failures, snowmelt and spring thaws, tidal storm surges and mudflows. New construction development of buildings, roads or bridges can often alter the potential and flow of floods. Being located within a flood zone can put individuals at risk, but being outside an established zone does not mean homeowners are safe: flooding is always a possibility due to causes such as heavy rains, snowmelt and spring thaws.

    Water damage also can come from non-weather related sources within the home, including leaky baseboard heating, plugged air conditioning unit condensation drains, furnaces/boilers, water heaters, washing machines, and leaky plumbing. Homeowners may also have wet basements resulting from water entering through cracks in foundations, improper l andscape grading, downspouts placed too close to the foundation or from seepage through floor drains and sewer pipes, among other reasons.

    In all cases, water can cause major damage to your property, valuables and equipment. In severe damage, such as from flooding, it may mean the need to rebuild or move to another location.

Protect your property through prepare and prevent measures.

In addition to purchasing the right insurance coverage, no matter the source of damage-causing water (weather-related or not) there are a number of things you can do to help minimize or prevent water damage to your property.

Protect your property with the right flood insurance.

The average cost for homeowner flood loss is $48,000, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). While floods can cause major destruction, the damage caused by floods is not covered by st andard homeowners insurance policies. However, flood insurance is offered by the NFIP and available through Travelers.

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    A flood insurance policy provides specialized coverage to help you protect your home and condo from rising waters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers, and the property’s flood risk. In general, flood policies can provide coverage for your home’s structure, furnace, water heater, furniture, appliances, clothing, rugs (with certain limitations for basement areas) and certain expenses you incur to protect your home from imminent flood damage and clean up costs. Generally, there is a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect. That means now is the best time to buy flood insurance.

    If you have any questions regarding homeowners insurance or flood insurance, contact your agent or company representative.

Prepare & Prevent: Weather-related sources of floodwater damage

Before

  • Know your flood zone risk. Evaluate your flood risk.
  • Have your furnace, water heater and other permanent equipment elevated above the expected flood levels of your area.
  • Inspect sump pumps and drains regularly to ensure proper operation.
  • If you own a generator, have a licensed electrician provide a transfer switch to your sump pump so you can operate it in the event of flooding.
  • To help prevent sewage backup, have a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow valve.
  • Keep s andbags on h and to help divert unusually high water away from your foundation.
  • In snowy climates, flag drains to avoid plowing snow on top of them.
  • Learn the flood alert signals of your community.
  • Collect emergency building materials if you live in a frequently flooded area. These include plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, nails, shovels and s andbags.
  • Plan and practice an evacuation route. Designate a place for family members to meet in the event they become separated.
  • Review with all family members how to shut off utilities in an emergency.
  • Plan a kit with important documents, including insurance documents, medications and critical items in the event you need to leave your home.

During

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information. If advised to evacuate, shut off all utilities and evacuate immediately.
  • Move to high ground, avoid rising waters and do not walk or drive through any floodwaters.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.

After

  • Listen to the radio and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Be watchful of snakes that may have found their way into your home.
  • Throw away all food that has come in contact with floodwaters.
  • Remove st anding water as quickly as possible, including from your basement. If your basement is flooded, pump out the water gradually. Remove about 1/3 per day to avoid structural damage.
  • Properly dry or remove soaked carpets, padding and upholstery within 24-48 hours after a flood to prevent mold growth. Discard anything that cannot be properly dried.
  • Wash and disinfect all areas that have been flooded. This includes walls, floors, closets, shelves, as well as heating and air-conditioning systems.
  • Do not energize electrical or electronic equipment that may have suffered water damage without first having a qualified electrician inspect and/or test it.
  • Promptly report the loss to Travelers using the toll-free claim reporting number.

More on tips for wet basements.
Floodsmart Tips

Prepare & Prevent: Weather-related sources of water damage

You can minimize or help prevent water damage from sources from within the home through home maintenance steps, including:

  • Keep drains, gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and other debris.
  • Maintain your roof to prevent water from seeping into your home.
  • Move downspouts minimally three feet away from the base of your home.
  • Inspect and repair foundation wall cracks.
  • Grade your l andscape away from your building so water is directed away from the basement.

Prepare & Prevent: Non-weather, interior sources of water damage

You can minimize or help prevent water damage from sources from within the home through home maintenance steps, including:

  • Inspect washing machine hoses annually and replace every three–five years–or immediately, if there are any signs of cracking or bulging.
  • Inspect plumbing around water heaters, showers, tubs, toilets, sinks, and dishwashers annually and repair if there are any signs of leaks or corrosion. When possible, install water heaters in an area with floor drains to minimize damage if leaks should occur.
  • Inspect refrigerator icemaker connections, usually located behind the refrigerator, annually and replace hoses if they appear cracked or corroded.
  • Check air conditioning drain lines yearly and clean if clogged.
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