No one can answer the question, “why do I need flood insurance” better than the residents of Buffalo, NY. It wasn’t until recent and sudden weather events did they believe it was a necessity. For some, this timing is too late.

Many families whose homes are not in designated flood zones requiring coverage have found themselves barricaded by mounds of snow and left with the scary realization that when it melts, the snow has to go somewhere. But what is covered by homeowners insurance and what damage requires an additional flood policy? Below are 5 facts the residents of Buffalo, NY and all homeowners should know about snowmelt and flood insurance.

1. Snowmelt. A mid-winter thaw can produce large amounts of runoff in a short period of time. Because the ground is hard and frozen, water cannot be reabsorbed. The water then runs off the surface and flows into lakes, streams, and rivers, causing excess water to spill over the banks.

2. Coverage. Although snow is a form of water, the pressure buildup of snow is not covered by a flood policy. However, once the higher temperatures hit, the snowmelt can lead to flooding which is covered by a typical flood policy.

3. Damage. Damage that is caused by pressure build up (snow pressure breaking through windows, roof damage, etc.) can differ in coverage from each carrier. Check with your insurance agent to see what types of destruction your policy covers.

4. Claims. With piles of snow building up against homes at such a fast pace, mitigation may not be possible – unless you are a snow shoveling machine. Take time to look over your coverage before the snowmelt hits. Take photos and move important paperwork to where it can be easily reached. If you have contents coverage, make sure your belongings have been well-documented (photos and catalogs). An itemized list will be required for damaged items, as may proof of purchase.

5. Relocation. Additional living expenses to relocate are not included in a traditional flood policy. In some instances, if the home is uninhabitable, you can request an advance to use for relocation. Be advised this does not increase your total payment from the loss and will be calculated into the claim.

BONUS FACT: Most policy changes have a 30-day wait period for coverage to become effective. This means planning ahead is crucial. Just because you are not in a designated flood zone, does not mean you are protected from flooding.

Winter weather is not getting any kinder – we’ve seen the proof over the last few years. Make sure your family home is insured so when the temperature drops, you look forward to a rising sun.

Are you a Bankers’ policyholder? Contact your agent today to find out what your policy covers in the event of a winter storm. Not a Bankers’ policyholder but looking to make the smart move towards coverage? Call our flood expert Caitlin at 1.800.627.0000 x4344 and we will help you find an agent.

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