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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.

The storm is over – now what do you do?

 

 

The storm is over –
now what do you do?

After it is confirmed by authorities that the storm has passed and it is safe to go outdoors, you can begin to assess any potential damage. If you have property damage, you should report your claim as soon as possible. The more information you can provide when you report the loss, the better we can begin our response. However, if you have missing information but have sustained damage, please report your claim in any event.

  1. Stay inside and make sure everyone is safe.

Stay tuned to the radio or television until an official “all clear” is given (if you were evacuated, return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so.)

  1. Avoid downed power lines.

Never touch anything in contact with power lines, including water or water puddles that may be near the downed power lines.

  1. Protect property from further damage.

Board up broken windows to protect against v andalism or additional weather damage. Arrange for reasonable temporary repairs.

  1. Keep accurate expense records.

Save bills and materials receipts from your temporary repairs. (Do not make permanent repairs until the insurance adjuster has reviewed the damage.) Also, keep accurate records of other expenses incurred.

  1. Separate and inventory the damaged property.

Write a list of any damaged contents. Include the item description, name of the manufacturer, the br and name, age, the place and date of purchase, if known. Use any photographs, videotapes or personal property inventories you may already have to help.

Winterize your home and property

Winterize your home and property

Ice, snow and wind can have devastating consequences on your home. The time to winterize is when the leaves begin to turn and not when the snow begins to fall.

Homeowners should take the following precautions:

  • Maintain gutters

    Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters so melting snow and ice can flow freely. You may also consider installing gutter guards. Available in most hardware and home stores, gutter guards are screens that prevent debris from entering the gutter and direct the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.

  • Trim trees and remove dead branches

    Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break, damaging your home or car or injuring someone walking on your property.

  • Check insulation

    Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. The water re-freezes causing more snow and ice to build up. This can result in a collapsed roof, and can contribute to ice damming. Ideally, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing.

  • Maintain pipes

    Wrap pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently have exposed pipes. Also, check for cracks and leaks. Have minor pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent much costlier repairs in the future.

  • Keep the house warm

    The temperature in your house should be at least 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the pipes from freezing.

  • Check heating systems

    The proper use and maintenance of furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can prevent fire and smoke damage. Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced at least once a year. Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly and consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.

  • Maintain steps and h andrails

    Broken stairs and banisters can become dangerous when covered with snow and ice. Make repairs now to prevent someone from falling and seriously being injured.

  • Get to know your plumbing

    Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent the pipes from bursting.

  • Hire a licensed contractor

    Have a professional survey your home for any structural damage. If damage is discovered, have it repaired immediately so further damage will not occur during the winter. Also, find out about ways to prevent water damage due to snow-related flooding. Plastic coatings for internal basement walls, sump-pumps and other methods can prevent damage to your home and belongings.

  • Plan for being away

    If you are not going to be in your home this winter for an extended period of time, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. Also, have someone check on your home on a regular basis. If there is a problem, it can be fixed quickly, thus lessening any damage. Activity at your home will also reduce the likelihood that it will be burglarized.

    Damage to homes caused by flooding is usually excluded from most st andard homeowner policies. Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program ( http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip ). Ask your insurance professional about flood insurance, as well as specific advice about winter-proofing your home.

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