person riding a bicycle during rainy day
Photo by Genaro Servín on Pexels.com

COLUMBUS — Flooding is one of the most frequent and expensive natural disasters in the country, with Ohioans having experienced their fair share of destruction.

Governor Mike DeWine and Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment are urging Ohioans to evaluate what is an adequate level of insurance protection for their property and belongings.

“Severe weather can set in quickly and cause significant damage, so it’s a good idea to check your insurance policy before you have a problem,” Governor DeWine said. “If you have questions about insurance or need help, contact the Department of Insurance.”

A recent national survey by the Insurance Information Institute found that only 12 percent of homeowners have flood insurance, meaning many people may be in a financially vulnerable position. Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to a home, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Unfortunately, many consumers do not know that most homeowners, renters, and business insurance policies do not cover damage from flooding.

“Many people do not realize that flood insurance is typically a separate policy that has to be purchased,” Director Froment said. “Flooding can pose a real and serious risk to Ohio homes, businesses, and personal belongings which is why we want Ohioans to talk to their agent and determine what coverage is most appropriate to their needs.”

More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk flood zones, according to the federal government.

How do you get flood insurance?

The federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides flood insurance and consumers can purchase it through an insurance company or agent. A 30-day waiting period typically applies before coverage begins.

What water damage does a homeowners insurance policy cover?

It will generally pay for water damage within the house such as an overflowing bathtub or burst pipe, but it will not pay for damage caused by sewer or drain back up unless you purchase the specific coverage to add to your policy. It also will not pay for unusual or rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water. Damage from rising groundwater requires a flood insurance policy or flood insurance endorsement added to your homeowners insurance policy.

What Ohio counties have the most flood insurance claims? Is your community at risk for flooding?

Ohio is in the middle of the pack compared to other states for flood insurance claims made since the NFIP’s inception in 1978. The following counties have made the most flood insurance claims. They’re listed with a total claims paid dollar figure:

1) Adams 3,938 claims; $60 million paid

2) Allen 3,363 claims; $36 million paid

3) Ashtabula 2,481 claims; $17.8 million paid

4) Cuyahoga 2,320 claims; $23 million paid

5) Athens 1,615 claims; $32 million paid

6) Ashland 1,401 claims; $20.3 million paid

7) Belmont 1,311 claims; $12.3 million paid

8) Butler 1,166 claims; $14.1 million paid

9) Brown 671 claims; $10.2 million paid

10) Clermont 664 claims; $7.9 million paid

To determine your risk of flooding visit the flood map tool at http://www.fema.gov.

What events does your insurance financially protect you against?

Damage caused by rain, hail, lightning, wind, and tornado are generally covered by a standard homeowners, renters, and commercial property insurance policy. An auto insurance policy’s “comprehensive” or “other than collision” coverage, which is optional to purchase, would provide coverage to fix these perils as well.

Should you keep an inventory of your possessions?

Listing possessions with photos and their values will prove worthwhile in a claim filing situation and help determine if you have adequate amounts of insurance. Download the free phone app myHOME Scr.APP.book or use a paper-home-inventory-checklist at http://www.insurance.ohio.gov.

Let the professionals help you

Communicate with your insurance agent and review your policies to ensure you have suitable insurance protection. Visit the Ohio Department of Insurance severe weather preparation and recovery online toolkit and call 1-800-686-1526 with questions. If you have a problem or questions about flood insurance coverage, contact your agent or the NFIP at 1-800-427-4661 or http://www.floodsmart.gov. Severe weather safety information is available from the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness at http://www.weathersafety.ohio.gov.