Thursday, March 6, 2014

Are you covered for flood damage? The answer may surprise you

This month has been the soggiest March on record in the Seattle area, according to the Associated Press, and some areas of the state are experiencing heavy rain that may cause flooding today and tomorrow. Here are some things that are good to know about floods and insurance:

  • Homeowner policies typically do not cover flood damage. Flood damage is not on standard homeowner policies and most commercial policies, although many people assume it is. That can be a costly assumption. Your mortgage lender may require you to have flood insurance if your home is located in a flood-prone area, also known as a "special flood hazard area." You can estimate your property's flood risk online.
  • Most people buy flood insurance through the government’s National Flood Insurance Program, which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These policies are sold through local insurance agents and brokers, which you can locate online. As with most policies, there are limits to what is covered.
  • Flood insurance rates are in flux. In July 2012, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which changed the way the National Flood Insurance Program is run. Among those changes were premium rate increases to make the program more financially stable. However, a new bill is being heard in Congress that would slow the premium increases for certain policyholders. That bill, call Grimm-Waters, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 4.
  • If your vehicle is damaged in a flood, your auto policy’s comprehensive coverage typically will cover it. However, you should verify you have that type of coverage with your insurance agent or broker. Read more about auto insurance.

You can read more about flood insurance on OIC’s website. 

OIC’s SHIBA can help consumers find health benefits

During National Consumer Protection Week, OIC is offering tips to help protect insurance consumers in Washington.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner oversees Washington’s Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA). SHIBA offers free, unbiased and confidential assistance with Medicare and other health care choices.

SHIBA can help you:

  • Understand your health care coverage options and rights.
  • Determine your general eligibility for health care coverage programs.
  • Evaluate and compare health insurance plans.

In 2013, our 570 SHIBA volunteer advisors helped 54,000 people understand their health insurance. Advisors are available in communities throughout the state;.

For people who are about to turn or recently turned 65, we host Medicare events around the state. You can also find information about Medicare on our website. 

Are you interested in becoming a SHIBA volunteer? Find out more.