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What Every Homeowner Should Know about Flood Insurance and Coverage

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

flood insuranceHow much flood insurance and coverage can you count on to ensure compensation after flood-related damages occur? If you’re thinking about your homeowner’s insurance policy, the answer is none. No class of flooding is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance. It doesn’t matter where you live nor what the source of flood water may be. “Flooding” can mean anything from an overflowing creek to a hurricane storm surge. Whatever the case, it’s not covered under homeowner’s insurance.

Flood insurance and coverage for water damage related to a flood must be purchased as an entirely separate policy offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Although these policies are provided by the federal government, they’re normally purchased through and administered by local private insurance agents that often offer other insurance including homeowner’s policies.

For individuals who live in federal flood zones designated as high risk and have a mortgage on their house, purchasing NFIP flood insurance isn’t merely an option — under the law, it’s mandatory. Even in areas rated moderate or low risk, private lenders may still require you to purchase flood insurance under the terms of the mortgage according to their standard practices.

Generally speaking, coverage provided by NFIP insurance for homeowners includes:

  • The home structure and foundation including all electrical and plumbing systems and HVAC equipment. Major appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers are also covered, as are permanent carpeting and paneling, cabinets and bookcases.
  • Personal possessions are covered per actual cash value. These include furniture, clothes and household electronics, and small appliances like window A/C units, microwaves and washers and dryers. Some specific valuables like original art objects, furs, and other items up to $2,500 may also be covered.

Two caveats: NFIP policies enforce a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins. So don’t wait until the weather forecast predicts flood conditions to purchase it. Also, don’t expect Federal Disaster Assistance to substitute for flood insurance. Disaster assistance is not insurance compensation; it’s a loan that must be repaid with interest.

The water damage experts at Rytech, Inc. are available to answer all your questions about federal flood insurance and coverage.

 

3 Ways to Prevent Mold Growth in a Flooded Home

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

To prevent mold growth in a flooded home, remember that the clock starts ticking as soon as water enters the house. Most experts agree you’ve got 24 to 36 hours before active mold growth begins in a wet indoor environment.  Flooding that affects an area of the house larger than 10 feet by 10 feet is not a do-it-yourself project. Therefore, one of your first priorities should be to make contact with a water damage and mold remediation service. Don’t devote time to DIY efforts until after you’ve arranged for a professional to intervene ASAP.

prevent mold growth in a flooded homeOnce qualified water damage assistance has been contacted, here are some priorities to prevent mold growth in a flooded home:

  • Relocate as many water-saturated items outside the house into the back yard or garage as possible. This would include sofas, curtains, loose rugs, mattresses and anything else that has soaked up a large quantity of water. Don’t pull up wet carpeting — a water damage professional may utilize extractors to pull water out of carpets without removal. Soggy non-essential papers, fabrics and other absorbent items can be thrown out now.
  • Open windows and use fans (be mindful of electrical hazards in a wet environment) to get air circulating throughout the home. After a flood, moisture migrates into areas not actually contacted by water due to extremely high humidity levels. Water vapor penetrates deep into the structure to trigger hidden mold growth. In addition to ventilating continuously, other steps you can take including running the air conditioner or even renting a dehumidifier can help prevent mold growth in a flooded home.
  • Where standing water on hard-surface floors can be manually pushed out the door with a floor squeegee or broom, remove as much water from the house as possible. However, stay out of deep standing water due to electrocution hazard and possible contamination from water-borne toxins. Leave the use of pumps, wet/dry vacuums or other electrical devices to the professionals.

For experienced advice about what you can do to prevent mold growth in a flooded home, contact Rytech, Inc.

Flood Safety: How to Keep Your Pets and Family Safe in a Flood

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Because flooding is the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., a few flood safety tips are good advice at any time of year. Flooding may occur in the form of flash floods that happen with little or no warning or as a result of tropical storms or hurricanes preceded by days of official updates and alerts. Once rising water looms, however, flood safety steps to keep your family and pets safe are the same whether the flood is a surprise or an expected event.

  • When weather conditions that might trigger flooding occur, stay informed. Keep a radio tuned to a local station for flood alerts. If you live in an area designated as a floodplain, a NOAA Weather Radio that broadcasts up-to-date weather and flood warnings continuously is a good investment.
  • As the risk of flooding mounts, begin preparations now. Get family members together and gather valuable irreplaceable documents if you have time.
  • All pets should have an enclosed pet carrier for use in an evacuation. Dogs too large for a carrier should have collars on and leashes to keep them under control.
  • Obey evacuation orders. If you’re told to leave your home, turn off all electricity at the circuit breaker panel, and turn off the main gas valve, too, if you’re able. Leave quickly and go to the evacuation area you are directed to.
  • Don’t attempt to walk through flood waters. Fast-moving water only six inches deep carries enough velocity to knock an adult down.
  • More than half of flood-related drownings happen in a vehicle. Don’t drive through flooded roadways or fast-moving water. Stop. Turn around and drive toward higher ground elsewhere.
  • Avoid contact with flood water. It may contain biohazards like raw sewage or other toxic substances. Keep pets away from the water, too.
  • Don’t return to your home until you are advised by authorities that it is safe to do so.

For more information about effective flood safety, contact the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Get the Help You Need: Avoiding Scams After a Flood

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

avoid scams after a floodAs if you didn’t have enough to worry about when dealing with water damage, you’ve also got to be careful to avoid scams after a flood. Any natural disaster brings an influx of fraudsters and scam artists into a local area, eager to prey on homeowners at a particularly vulnerable time. Because the established infrastructure of government and private business is often temporarily disorganized after a disaster like flooding, fraud perpetrators see an opportunity to exploit misfortune and turn disarray to their advantage. The best defense to avoid scams after a flood is information. Here are some guidelines to sort out the usual suspects:

  • Reputable, legitimate water damage recovery firms don’t solicit business door-to-door or over the telephone. Be suspicious of persons spontaneously showing up at your house in the aftermath of a flood or calling randomly on the phone.
  • Federal emergency organizations like FEMA do not endorse specific water damage or other flood recovery companies. Nor do they endorse private contractors. Anyone who claims to be “certified” or otherwise recommended by a federal agency to perform private flood recovery services should be considered a likely scamster.
  • Beware of requests for large advance deposits in cash. Because fraud artists don’t plan to be around to finish the work, they want as much hard money up front as possible.
  • Insist on getting a local business address, not just a telephone number or email. Any trustworthy water damage recovery company has an established office, shop, and marked work vehicles.
  • Ask to see a contractor’s license. Laws vary from state to state, but in many states any repair or remodel work (including water damage recovery) totaling a specified amount in labor and materials requires a contractor’s license. In most states, it’s illegal even to solicit such work without a license.
  • Ask to see proof of professional certification, specifically from the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration) which sets standards and practices for the water damage remediation industry.

Avoid scams after a flood by contacting the professionals at Rytech, Inc., offering water damage and mold remediation services in 17 states.

New Flood Insurance Overhaul Affects Policy Holders

Friday, May 29th, 2015

As of April 1, 2015, a flood insurance overhaul takes effect that may bring surprises to over a million homeowners. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) will raise monthly premiums up to 18 percent on the primary residence under certain conditions and impose even steeper hikes on secondary residences such as beach houses and vacation homes. Houses that have suffered previous flood damage will also incur higher rates. Surcharges of $25 for private homes and up to $250 for all others also take effect on that date.

shutterstock_161054561The flood insurance overhaul is largely an outcome of complaints about earlier 2012 Biggert-Waters legislation. Coastal homeowners, the real estate industry and many state representatives in Congress took issue with terms of the previous bill and demanded remedies incorporated in the HFIAA. Deficits incurred by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) due to high costs associated with major flood events like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy were another major impetus.

Other provisions included in the April 1 flood insurance overhaul include:

  • A new $10,000 deductible option for residential flood insurance only. If a homeowner selects this option, the $10,000 deduction figure must apply to both structure and content damage—homeowners cannot select different figures for each.
  • Minimum deductibles for Preferred Risk policy as well as the Mortgage Portfolio Protection Program are $1,000 for the structure and contents if the total coverage is $100,000 or less or $1,250 for coverage greater than that.
  • The definition of “primary residence” is a house the insured and/or spouse occupied more than half the year. Before applying the new $25 surcharge, insurers are required to verify the primary residence by checking driver’s license, auto registration, voter registration or other documents.

For more information on how the flood insurance overhaul may affect water damage claims, contact Rytech, Inc.

Photo via Shutterstock

The Dos and Don’ts of Dealing With Water Damage After Flooding

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Water Damage After FloodingMake no mistake, water damage after flooding is an emergency situation. There may be life-threatening hazards, structural damage issues and potential health dangers from contamination. In addition, property loss can be substantial. How you handle the event and its immediate aftermath are critical and may have a major impact on both the amount of loss as well as the progress of professional restoration. (more…)

The Most Affordable Water Damage Remedy: Prevention

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

water damage preventionWhile water damage recovery professionals use a variety of techniques to restore your home to normal after a flood, no recovery method trumps water damage prevention. The disaster that never occurs is the best of all possible scenarios for everyone concerned. In many homes however, potential water damage is waiting to happen. Water under pressure circulates throughout the house in supply lines and most of that water flows back out through separate drain pipes. Any defects in either side of the system can lead to a catastrophic flood or hidden, ongoing damage. (more…)

Suspect Mold in Your Home? The Many Potential Causes of This Fungus

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Suspect Mold in Your Home? The Many Potential Causes of This FungusDormant microscopic mold spores exist in almost any house, but the causes of active mold growth in the home all have one common denominator: moisture. Airborne mold spores that infiltrate the home may settle in cracks, crevices and accumulate in hidden areas. Growing active mold, however, only becomes manifest under certain circumstances. Where these conditions exist, mold growth thrives and millions of toxic reproductive spores are released into your indoor environment. It is these active spores that cause acute allergic responses as well as other chronic illnesses attributed to mold contamination. In the typical household, the causes of mold in the home can be attributed to these moisture-related conditions: (more…)

5 Tips to Reduce the Scope of Damage in a Flooded Basement

Monday, January 27th, 2014

flooded basement

A flooded basement will always be an issue in home water damage because of one essential fact: Water always seeks the lowest level. In most homes, that’s the basement. Whether it’s an inundation of outdoor flood waters or an indoor plumbing emergency, at least some if not most of that water will wind up in the basement.  (more…)

Flood Maps: What Every Homeowner Should Know for Their Own Protection

Monday, January 20th, 2014

flood mapsFlood damage can happen almost anywhere, but flood maps graphically depict which locales are at greatest danger. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) generates flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) that show the relative risk of flooding in 20,000 communities across the United States. The maps depict flood zones, each represented by one or more letters to indicate the potential of flooding. The official FEMA flood maps are used to set rates charged by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to homeowners in mapped communities. (more…)