You're flooded -- are you covered?

BELLEVUE Some Bellevue residents who just finished drying out their basements after last week's flooding are now encountering
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

BELLEVUE

Some Bellevue residents who just finished drying out their basements after last week's flooding are now encountering another hurdle -- insurance.

Flood victim Sue Gardner, 210 Sherman St., shed tears of frustration Monday afternoon when 4-5 feet of water filled her basement for the second year in a row.

She's not alone. Huron County Emergency Management Agency officials say 400-500 basements in Bellevue flooded Monday.

Gardner's home is insured through Hasselbach and Paul Agency, who covered her estimated $5,000 in damages last year because the water that entered her home came in through the drains in her basement.

Gardner's granddaughter, Tiffany, 19, said her grandmother has yet to discuss Monday's flood damages with her insurance agent.

She had what's called a "backup" insurance policy, which covers damages done to her home from water that enters through backed-up or flooded sewer drains.

Allstate claims adjuster Jarrod Gennari said backup insurance can cost as little as $30-$70 a year, but is not typically included in standard homeowner's insurance policy.

"You need to clarify it," he said. "As an agent, I would 1,000 times rather have a phone call with me saying you have coverage than having to tell someone it's not in your policy. I hate that conversation."

Gennari said many people also assume backup insurance covers them in all cases when their home floods, but that's not necessarily true.

Bellevue Housing Code Enforcement Officer Susan DeMaria said back-up insurance only covers water that enters homes through drains and pipes, but not water that enters through above-ground entrances like windows and doors, which are legally considered to be flood waters.

"Back-up insurance is not flood insurance," she said.

Gennari said homeowner's insurance policies rarely include back up insurance, but no home insurance policy covers a flood.

Flood insurance is administered through the federal government, namely the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Companies like Allstate offer flood policies to their customers through FEMA, which can charge $200-$1,500 a year for a policy depending upon the location of a home.

"It's a FEMA program. They develop the rates," Gennari said about why flood insurance costs so much more than back up insurance. "It costs the same through all states... It's the federal government that generates the costs based off of losses they had during the (previous) year."

Gennari said oftentimes homeowners assume that because they don't live in a flood zone, their home won't get flooded and they don't need flood or back up insurance.

"Last year in Norwalk I had customers calling that weren't in a flood zone that had water pouring in the windows," he said. "They think I was trying to pull a fast one selling them flood insurance until they needed to use it."