If you're asked if water has to flow over your doorstep to be considered a flood, you may honestly say, "No, but water did run under my house 21 years ago." That's because in the United States, only houses built after 1978 are required by law to have flood insurance. Before then, many homes were built near waterways and no one thought to ask if they were at risk of flooding.
But that doesn't mean it won't happen again. Flooding is caused by many factors other than rain, such as snow melt or overflow from nearby dams. And although it may not happen to another family right away, it could cause serious damage to your home if you're not prepared for it. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires owners of existing single-family homes in areas at risk for flooding to purchase coverage. New homes require an annual report from an accredited agency that includes a statement saying whether the site was previously identified as being in danger of flooding and, if so, how high the water would reach. If the agent answers yes to both questions, the owner is also advised to buy flood insurance.
The cost of flood insurance is based on how much coverage you want. There are three types of coverage: full, partial and optional. A full policy covers the value of your home and any contents within it if it is flooded.
Dozens of homes have been inundated, and communities have been submerged, after rain again deluged portions of England. The Environment Agency has issued 79 flood warnings for the South, Midlands, East, and Yorkshire, indicating the need for rapid action. Several areas are now in a state of emergency.
Flooding occurs when water reaches levels higher than the normal high tide mark. Flooding can cause serious damage to property and death due to exposure or drowning.
The main factors that lead to flooding are rainfall and the location of rivers. Where there is heavy rainfall and the river is near its peak level, then flooding is likely. Where the river is not very wide and has fast-flowing water, it will be easier for it to overflow its banks. Where there is shallow soil close to the river's edge, this is also an issue because it can lead to land being washed away.
Flooding can be caused by natural events such as storms and earthquakes but it can also be man-made. Dams construction along waterways can lead to flooding where otherwise there might be space for the water to flow. This is the case with most of London's canals which are only able to hold back so much water before they become flooded. Another example is building houses up against streams or drainage channels which increases the risk of flooding for those nearby.
Flood damage is not covered by standard homeowner's policies, regardless of the source of the water. Flooding can occur as a result of storms, saturated earth, or overflowing or surging bodies of water such as rivers, ponds, lakes, and seas. Flood damage costs more to repair or replace than other types of property damage because it affects everything from roof material to walls to wiring.
If floodwater reaches your house beyond your basement, then you will need flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides coverage for homes in high-risk areas that are at least 4 feet above local tide levels. However, if you live in an area that is not designated as high risk, you may want to consider buying extra coverage just in case. You can find out if your home is in a high-risk area by contacting your local NFIP office or visiting www.floodsmart.gov.
Your carrier has the legal right to determine whether or not to provide coverage for any given hazard. For example, some carriers may not cover floods unless they originate from a body of water directly adjacent to your property line. Other factors such as soil composition, proximity to protective barriers (such as levees), and structural features such as basements may also affect whether or not you receive coverage.