A lot of people don’t realize that damage from floods is excluded in their homeowners insurance policy. That’s likely a big reason why a 2016 Insurance Institute of America survey showed that just 12% have flood insurance — many might think their homeowners policy covers them already.
So why isn’t it covered? After all, insurance is supposed to protect you from the bad things that can happen to your home, and a flood can be particularly devastating.
Before we go any further, it is important to know that your homeowners insurance does cover a lot of those bad things that can happen — including some that you might even think of as “flooding.” But there is a big difference, insurance-wise, between “water damage” and “flood damage.” Water damage, for example, is when a pipe bursts in your home. Your homeowners policy covers that. What isn’t covered is the type of flooding that occurs when a body of water outside your home overflows to a point where it enters your home.
A question of financial health
Flooding isn’t covered by standard homeowners policies because it simply doesn’t make financial sense for insurance companies. And it’s not just about profits — companies need to remain financially healthy in order to pay claims and provide the protection promised to policyholders.
Before 1950, homeowners insurance used to cover flooding, but over time, the astronomical losses incurred from floods became too much of a burden. And by the early 1960s, all private insurance companies stopped covering flood damage because the risk was too high. This forced homeowners to bear these losses, which was an untenable situation; it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for the average homeowner to pay the entire cost of rebuilding their home.
What are your options?
The government eventually stepped in to offer a solution, providing disaster aid to homeowners and ultimately establishing the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968. Depending on where your home is located, you might be required to purchase flood insurance. And some lenders require it even in lower-risk areas: More than 20% of flood claims come from outside of known flood zones, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The government program is somewhat limited, however. It is available only in participating communities, and it offers only up to $350,000 in coverage — limits are $250,000 for the house structure and $100,000 for the contents of the house. That’s why many private companies also offer additional insurance, known as “excess coverage,” on top of the flood insurance the government offers.
Do you need flood insurance? If you’re not in an area where it is required, it still might be worth considering. Your local independent agent can answer your questions easily and help you decide what is right for you.
Having a flat tire when driving is always a problem. But experiencing a flat or blowout while traveling on an interstate highway or other high-speed roadway can present special dangers. The National Safety Council offers these tips for coping with tire trouble:
At the first sign of tire trouble, grip the steering wheel firmly.
Don't slam on the brakes.
Let the car slow down gradually by taking your foot off the gas pedal.
Work your vehicle toward the breakdown lane or, if possible, toward an exit.
If it is necessary to change lanes, signal your intentions to drivers behind and do so smoothly and carefully, watching your mirrors and the traffic around you very closely.
Steer as your vehicle slows down. It is better to roll the car off the roadway (when you have slowed to 30 miles per hour) and into a safe place than it is to stop in traffic and risk a rear-end or side collision from other vehicles.
When all four wheels are off the pavement—brake lightly and cautiously until you stop.
Turn your emergency flashers on.
It's important to have the car well off the pavement and away from traffic before stopping, even if proceeding to a place of safety means rolling along slowly with the bad tire flapping. You can drive on a flat if you take it easy and avoid sudden moves. Don't worry about damaging the tire. It is probably ruined anyway.
Once off the road, put out reflectorized triangles behind your vehicle to alert other drivers. Keep your emergency flashers on. If you know how to change a tire, have the equipment and can do it safely without being near traffic, change the tire as you normally would.
Remember that being safe must take precedence over your schedule or whatever other concerns you may have. Changing a tire with traffic whizzing past can be nerve-wracking at best and dangerous at worst. Therefore, it may be best to get professional help if you have a tire problem or other breakdown on a multi-lane highway.
Raise your hood and tie something white to the radio antenna or hang it out a window so police officers or tow truck operators will know that you need help.
DO NOT stand behind or next to your vehicle. If possible, stand away from the vehicle and wait for help to arrive.
All interstate highways and major roads are patrolled regularly. Also, some highways have special "call-for-help" phones. If you have a cell phone you can call right from the roadside. It is inadvisable to walk on a multi-lane highway. However, if you can see a source of help and are able to reach it on foot, try the direct approach by walking but keeping as far from traffic as possible.
These are the most important things to remember when dealing with a flat tire on the highway:
DO NOT stop in traffic.
Get your vehicle completely away from the roadway before attempting to change a tire.
Tackle changing a tire only if you can do so without placing yourself in danger.
Finally, the Council recommends that you have a qualified mechanic check your vehicle after having a flat tire to be sure there is no residual damage from the bad tire or the aftermath of the flat.
You like your roommate. You trust your roommate. But should you both be on the same renters policy?
The answer, in most instances, is “No,” even though some insurance companies will allow it.
Renters insurance covers your belongings, along with providing protections for loss of use, liability, etc. Roommates are not included by default on a policy, even if you’re both on the lease. Also, there’s no “insurable interest” between roommates, which means they typically don’t have any financial interest in your stuff, and you don’t have any in theirs.
To put it another way: If you didn’t renew your lease, you’d take your things, and they would take theirs. It’s not like a divorce, with a lot of shared property. (Although maybe you’d both fight to take that rice cooker you bought together and never used).
Here are three reasons not to share a renters policy with a roommate:
If they get sued, you could get hurt. Say your roommate’s dog bites somebody. If it’s even covered (some policies exclude certain dog breeds), a shared policy means you could be part of the lawsuit. That would be a hassle, and it might mean higher premiums for you down the road.
Your stuff isn’t all the same. Does your roommate have expensive items, such as jewelry? If they have a lot of valuables and you don’t, you could end up paying more than your fair share for coverage.
It’s more complicated than sharing the power bill. First of all, sharing a policy means you need to make sure your roommate pays their part of the bill. But things can really get complicated if there’s a claim. The check will be made out to both of you, even if it’s just your stuff that was damaged or stolen. If they don’t sign it, you can’t cash it. (Important note: If your roommate steals your stuff, it is not covered by renters insurance... and it's probably a good time to find a new roommate, too.)
While you already share a place with your roommate, you probably don’t need to share your insurance. Having your own policy will provide the protection you need, usually at a very affordable price.
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.