Maine Bureau of Insurance Issues Flood Insurance Alert

In Light of Recent Flooding, Consumers Should Evaluate Insurance Needs

GARDINER — Extreme weather has caused damage across the country, and Maine is no exception.  On June 24th, localized thunderstorms created very heavy rains resulting in flood damage and one death in Piscataquis County.

“Maine residents are encouraged to assess the risks associated with severe weather, and take steps to protect themselves and their property,” Superintendent Cioppa advised. “Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by flooding.  Relying solely on a standard policy may put your home and possessions in danger.”

Homeowners insurance traditionally covers damage to property caused by wind or rain, such as damage resulting from water entering a home through a leaky roof.  Flood damage, however, is generally only covered if a property owner purchased insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Earlier this month, Congress extended the NFIP for an additional five years.  Created in 1968, the NFIP was scheduled to expire at the end of July.  Almost all Maine communities participate in the NFIP, and nearly every resident in participating communities, including renters, can purchase flood insurance.

“Hurricane season is underway, but it isn’t just coastal communities that are at risk,” Cioppa commented. “Heavy rains and high winds impact inland communities, as well.  Because flood insurance policies have a 30 day waiting period before a new policy takes effect, planning ahead is critical.”

Consumers can obtain more information about flood insurance through the NFIP website, www.floodsmart.gov, or by calling 1-800-427-2419.  Questions or concerns about insurance of all types can be directed to the Bureau of Insurance by calling 1-800-300-5000.  Preparedness tips from the Bureau accompany this release.  Additionally, the Maine Emergency Management Agency offers flood tips and recommendations at www.state.me.us/mema/.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation which encourages sound business practices through impartial and efficient regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and professions. The Bureau can be reached at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000; or writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.

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Disaster Preparedness Tips for Homeowners and Renters from Bureau of Insurance and National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

  • Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.
  • To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.
  • As you acquire more valuables — jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art —consider purchasing an additional “floater” or “rider” to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.
  • Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).
  • Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a Web site for easy retrieval.
  • Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.
  • Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.
  • Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.
  • Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.
  • Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy accordingly.
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