How a flood insurance policy protects you, and where it falls short

Apr 5, 2023, 10:49 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 4:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — All the snow up in Utah’s mountains is not going to stay there. If it melts too quickly, even folks not in typical flood zones may have issues. If that water does end up in your basement, you shouldn’t expect help from your standard homeowners’ insurance policy.

“Flood insurance is a different ballgame,” insurance agent Bekka Carlson said.

Different, because, unlike most homeowners policies, flood insurance comes from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. And there are two different kinds of flood insurance: building coverage and contents coverage.

Building coverage covers items that are “connected to power and installed.” For example, an air conditioner, electrical outlet or your furnace or water heater.

Contents coverage kicks in for other stuff that plugs in, like your washer and dryer, or a spare fridge.

And be warned: Even with flood insurance, many people who get flooded are surprised to learn they are still on the hook for repairs. Items not specifically listed in the policy are not covered in a flooded basement. For example, furniture and televisions aren’t covered. Nor is that box of family keepsakes you keep stored down there.

Also not covered are the walls themselves: If your basement is finished, you will be the one paying to repair it. Drywall and carpeting are only covered if it’s above the basement.

That is why agents say anything you can do to prevent a flood in the first place is in your best interest.

“I just emphasize, because people don’t think of it — keeping it away from your house,” Carlson said. “It lends to you know, helping people not be frustrated if they understand how things are going to work before they happen.”

The cost of flood insurance varies depending on how close you live to a lake or stream that could run over its banks, but typically it is pretty affordable. If you do want it, know that it takes 30 days to kick in from the time you buy. So, if you buy today and you flood next week, you are out of luck.

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How a flood insurance policy protects you, and where it falls short