Most homeowners are aware that the standard insurance policy does not cover certain types of damages. This generally includes damages caused by groundwater.
What you may not know is what exactly this means and how you can protect yourself and your property if there is a flood.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan Wheeler are here to help you understand your coverage, guide you through steps to take to protect your home, and advise you on what to do if those steps fail.
What Makes Groundwater Damage Different?
Surprisingly, there are several different types of floods that can cause damage to your home. Groundwater damage is caused by an excess amount of water seeping into your home from at or below ground level. This may occur if a sewer backs up or if heavy rainfall hits the ground and leaks into your home.
Typically, a homeowners insurance policy will cover water damages if they are caused by something in the home. For example, if the water pipe leading to your toilet bursts, chances are your policy will cover that. However, if a storm comes by, floods your yard and saturates the ground, allowing water to get into your basement through the wall, the damages may not be covered by insurance.
How Can I Protect Myself From Groundwater Damage In A Low-Risk Flood Zone?
If you don’t live in a high risk flood zone, the most practical way to protect yourself is by installing a sump pump.
A sump pump is a device that is installed in a pit just below the lowest floor in your home (e.g. your basement or crawl space floor). The pump turns itself on when water hits it. As soon as it is activated, it will begin to pull water from your basement or crawl space and depositing it outside of your home.
As with most small devices that rely on electricity to run, a sump pump is not without flaws. During particularly heavy storms, you may lose all power to your home, which will mean the sump pump cannot function.Even if you purchase a backup battery, there is still a risk that it can lose its charge over time. Heavy storms can also bring an excess amount of water too large for a sump pump to manage.
The best way to ensure that your sump pump will not fail is by installing a multi-component backup system. These systems can cost less than $1,000 (much less money than you’ll be spending if your basement floods and is completely destroyed!)
There are also additional insurance options that will cover sump pump failure or sewer backup. Click here to speak with an attorney about whether these coverage options are right for you.
I Live In A High Risk Flood Zone. What Can I Do?
Typically, if you live in a high risk flood zone, you may qualify for additional flood insurance. While this will bring on an added premium, this is another scenario where you have to weigh out the cost now versus the benefit of having coverage should a groundwater damage your entire home.
To find out if you live in a high risk flood zone, visit FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program page. You can read more about the program, and enter your address to check your risks.
At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to make sure you’re protected against flood damages. Your best bet is to make sure you’re covered now; even if you purchase flood insurance, it takes 30 days for the coverage to take full effect, so don’t wait until the news announced an impending “100 year storm” to start protecting your home.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan Wheeler are here to help make sure you’re taking all of the necessary steps to protect your home from flood damages. We would be more than happy to review your insurance policy and discuss sump pumps and other options for your home, at absolutely no cost to you.