Americans lost more than $6 billion in property damage from flooding last year alone. Homeowners in high-risk areas are required by lenders to get flood insurance. But a quarter of all flood losses involve homes in low-to-moderate risk areas. That's why Consumer Reports says you
should consider flood insurance.
But Kay Bowker's family in Lumberton, New Jersey, thought it was something that
would never happen to them.
"It never even crossed our minds to get flood insurance. It was not needed.
We were not at all in what we felt was a high-risk area," she says.
But ground water seeped through their basement floor last year. It caused tens
of thousands of dollars in damages, which her homeowner's insurance didn't
cover the damage.
"It doesn't take a hurricane to cause major flood damage to your home," says Consumer Reports Toby Stanger. "Even if you live in a low-to-moderate risk area, you could be subject to flooding."
But typical homeowners' insurance policies like the one Kay had don't cover flooding. You need separate flood insurance.
"With most insurance, experts say if you have any doubt, don't buy it. With flood insurance, we say you probably should buy it," Stanger says.
To help determine whether you need coverage, go to www.FloodSmart.gov for a preliminary assessment of your property's flood risk.
If you live in a low-to-moderate risk area, the cost of national flood insurance can be relatively low. It can be under $200 a year.
Flood insurance - which you can get from most insurance agents - will pay up to $250,000 to rebuild your home and up to 100-thousand dollars to replace the contents.
Flood insurance usually kicks in 30 days from the date of purchase, so don't wait until bad weather is looming to purchase it. And, be aware, unlike homeowners insurance, you can't buy a flood policy that will pay more than the policy limit if rebuilding costs run higher than anticipated.