With floods ravaging Central Nebraska, local insurance agents say flood insurance is an option to cover damage sustained by future floods.
Amanda Hanquist, a Farmers Insurance agent, said her office offers specific flood policies for policy holders, as flood insurance differs from what is offered on a standard homeowners policy.
"On your standard homeowners insurance, if you have water that is coming in through a drain or basement sump pump, or water coming in due to a pipe bursting, that is going to be covered under your normal homeowners policy," Hanquist said. "If, however, you have water coming in through windows, doors and/or cracks, that is not going to be covered under your homeowners insurance. That only has coverage under a flood insurance policy."
She added that some policy holders assume flood damage is covered by their homeowners policy when it is not. Her office has had several calls from policy holders questioning whether they have flood coverage, only to be told they do not.
Tom Reisdorph, a State Farm Insurance agent, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in charge of flood insurance throughout the country. He added flood insurance is not an independent policy one can buy through State Farm, but that the company can help with the paperwork and set up the plan.
"There is an application that is completed with the address and you need to be in a flood plain," said Diane Boyd, office manager at Reisdorph's office. "Anybody can purchase flood insurance if they wish. We do require, for the best prices, an elevation certificate to be completed by a surveyor so we know where all the numbers are from the bottom of your home and where property is going to be located in the home."
Reisdorph said flood insurance covers any water damage caused by a flood. He added FEMA describes a flood as "water going in the front door and escaping the back door."
"There can be water damage from something inside your home from something that is supposed to have water in it, like a washing machine, bathtub, toilet bowl or hot water heater. Those items are covered under a homeowners policy," he said. "But water from outside the house is only covered by flood insurance."
Reisdorph said that in Grand Island, there are various areas where the price of flood insurance is different due to the flood zone one is in. The elevation certificate determines the flood plain and what the rate will be.
Hanquist said the cost of flood insurance "varies extremely."
"You could have a flood insurance policy that costs $900 and you could have one that costs $5,000. It depends on what flood zone you are in," she said. "The zoning is dependent on the risk, so there are all kinds of different flood zones. There is what is called an elevation certificate. On that, it describes the type of risk you would be."
Hanquist said oftentimes, those required to obtain flood insurance due to their mortgage get the "bare minimum coverage" to make it "as cheap as possible." She cautions people against this.
"They do not have proper coverage, meaning they have insurance for their home, but not for anything inside it," she said. "That is something to watch out for when you are buying a flood insurance policy. Make sure you are getting it for the right reasons."
Hanquist said her office has had "quite a few claims" coming in for flood insurance. Reisdorph said it is ironic, but there has not been a large number of people coming into his office to inquire about flood insurance.
"It seems that the only people who buy flood insurance are those that are in a flood zone and their bank requires it (for their mortgage)," he said.
Boyd said in all her year's as office manager at Reisdorph's office, she has only seen those required to buy flood insurance as part of their mortgage requirements inquiring about it.
"I think flood insurance has a lot of value to it," Reisdorph said. "Unfortunately, a lot of these people now in these small, rural towns are in flood situations because of heavy rains and melting snow. They never anticipated any problems. So they are going to have flood claims and not have a flood policy to cover it."
He added: "The Grand Island area is a high water table area, so there is always the risk of flood. I think people need to compare the prices and see if that (flood insurance) is something that is important to them because flood insurance is not cheap."
Reisdorph said despite the high cost of flood insurance, it could be less costly than thousands of dollars in flood damage.
Hanquist and Reisdorph encouraged anyone interested in flood insurance to call their offices for more information.