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Melting Snow Combined with Spring Rains May Cause Flooding: Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover It, Probably Not

Wisconsin experienced record snowfalls this winter. Combine melting snow with heavy spring rains, and many homeowners will experience wet basements, sewer backups and/or houses flooded with several feet of water.

“Basic homeowners policies do not typically cover sewer backups or may cover them on a limited basis,” says Ron Von Haden, CIC, Executive Vice President of the PIAW. “However, homeowners can add sewer backup coverage as an endorsement to their homeowners’ policy.”

“Homeowners should contact their professional, independent insurance agent to provide guidance concerning sewer backup coverage–before you need it,” he says.

To minimize or prevent basement flooding take these steps:

  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are free of clutter and drain water at least three feet away from the foundation.
  • Make sure any sewer grates in front of or near your home are clear of debris.
  • Inspect your foundation for cracks and fill the small ones. “If your basement is already damp or has large cracks, consider hiring a professional to evaluate your foundation and make recommendations,” notes Von Haden
  • Install window well covers.
  • Make sure your sump pump, if you have one, is free of debris. Consider purchasing a generator to keep the pump operating during power outages.

If you live near a river or other source of water, you may want to consider flood insurance, as homeowners policies do not cover floods.

“Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program have caused insurance costs to skyrocket. Currently, Congress is considering delaying the 2012 legislation that caused rates to increase, so there is a lot of uncertainty with the program right now,” explains Von Haden.

Should you or a family member suffer losses due to sewer backups or other types of storm damage, you should immediately follow these steps:

  1. Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible to begin filing a claim. Your insurer may have insurance company representatives on the scene immediately following a major disaster to speed up the handling of claims.
  2. Watch the local news to find out if state and federal agencies are on-scene to help with the relief effort.
  3. Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost personal property.
  4. Take photos of the damage. Do not throw out any damaged property without your insurance adjuster’s agreement.
  5. Make temporary repairs immediately to protect your property from further damage. Keep these receipts and include them in your insurance claim. Permanent repairs must wait until the insurance adjuster has had a chance to review the damage.

For more information or to locate a PIA member near you, look for the PIA logo or go to www.PIAW.org.