The state of Iowa is no stranger to flooding. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given the geographical location. The eastern and western borders of the state are the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, which happen to be the two longest rivers in the country. Not only that, the Des Moines River cuts through the heart of the state touching over 25% of Iowa’s counties.
Iowa endured historic flooding in 2019 from the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Heavy rains and flash floods are common across the state each spring and summer. While we never know what the future holds, it can only benefit you to be prepared for the unforeseen challenges. There are a lot of misconceptions about homeowners insurance and what is covered. Each insurance provider is different, but not every circumstance is guaranteed to be covered simply because you have insurance.
Let’s break down what you need to know to be properly insured. We will also give you tips on how to lower your risk of flooding.
Flood Insurance Coverage In Iowa
While flooding seems to be commonplace in Iowa, flood insurance is not a part of a basic homeowners insurance policy. The federal government offers flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Determine If You Are In A Flood Zone
Mortgage lenders may require you to purchase a flood insurance policy if you are in a designated flood zone. You can enter your address at the FEMA Flood Map portal to see if you are in a special flood hazard area.
An area of minimal flood hazard will be marked with Zone B, C, or X. If the zone begins with an A or V, this is a high-risk flood area. The flood zones and mapping details may change over time as expansion and growth occur within a community. Weather conditions and patterns may also factor into changes to flood maps.
Assess Your Risk For Flooding
You do not need to be located in a flood zone to purchase flood insurance. Heavy rains and flash floods can put any home at risk. About 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from properties located outside of a designated high-risk flood zone.
If you have concerns about flooding on your property, you may want to consider coverage. This is particularly important for properties that have experienced a wet basement in the past or are located just outside of a flood zone.
Keep in mind that your house does not need to fill with water to have extensive damage. A single inch of water can cause over $25,000 in damages. Flooring, foundations, and appliances can all be compromised or rendered unusable as a result of a flood.
See What Your Insurance Policy Covers
Before you decide to lock down a flood insurance policy, check with your insurance agent to see what your current policy covers. A great first step is to determine if sump pump failure is covered.
Sump pumps act as an incredible preventative measure to combat flooding. However, if a sump pump gives out in the middle of a storm, your risk of basement flooding is drastically increased.
Water damage may be covered by some policies as well. This is not the same as flood damage. It’s important to know all the details of your policy to make the best decisions to be sure you are protected in the event of an emergency.
Purchase A Policy In A Timely Manner
You should be proactive if you have determined you would benefit from having a flood insurance policy since it will not be in effect immediately. Don’t procrastinate until the middle of the rainy season to get flood insurance coverage. It could be too late.
Lowering Your Flood Risk
You shouldn’t rely on an insurance policy alone to bail you out of a bad situation. There are measures you can take to protect your home from flooding. Taking the right precautions to lower the risk of a flood affecting your property is a must.
Have A Sump Pump With Battery Backup
Installing a sump pump is an essential part of flood prevention. As water levels build around the foundation of your home, a sump pump works to collect and expel the water far away from the foundation.
Power outages occur often during thunderstorms. Sometimes they last for a split second while other outages are more severe and can last for hours. Your sump pump requires electricity to function and a power outage can cause it to fail. Installing a battery backup will give you peace of mind if and when the power goes down at your home during a storm. This allows the sump pump to continue working as the electricity is being restored.
Seal The Foundation
Water will be looking for a place to go as it builds up around the foundation of your home. The path of least resistance will be through cracks and gaps in the foundation. You should scan your basement walls and floors to identify problematic areas and seal them with hydraulic cement, mortar, masonry caulk, or another sealant.
Clean Your Gutters & Guide Water Away From The Foundation
Check your gutters throughout the spring and summer to clean out any leaves, twigs, or other debris that may have collected. Don’t forget about the downspout, which can become clogged. Rainwater will linger around the foundation when gutters are blocked with debris. Additionally, you could experience problems with the siding or shingles.
Once the gutters are clear, be sure you are leading the water away from your foundation. The downspout should finish at a lower elevation than it started. The further you can guide water away from the foundation, the less likely it will be to find its way back.
Potential Damages From Flooding
When a basement floods you can expect damage to floors, drywall, furniture, and personal property. Damage can occur in several areas when water invades your basement.
Cracks may develop as water pushes against the foundation and enters the home. This can cause the floors to become loose or to buckle. Vertical cracks are generally the result of foundation settling, an expected occurrence. Horizontal cracks are commonly caused by increased soil pressure and are a reason for concern.
Simply put, water and electricity don’t mix. If you have experienced a flood it’s important to not engage any wires, outlets, switches, or electrical boxes. Call a professional electrician to inspect the damage, it could be the difference that saves your life.
It’s likely that you have important appliances in your basement such as a water heater, washing and drying machines, a refrigerator, or your heating and cooling system. Elevating your appliances could help prevent appliance failure in the event of a flood. Don’t use your appliances until you have had a professional inspection if you have experienced a flood.
Mold and Mildew
A common problem in a wet or humid basement is mold and mildew growth. Use a combination of open windows, a dehumidifier, and fans to help the wet areas dry quickly. We offer 24/7 Mold remediation s in the event that you ever need it. Contact us if you have a mold problem in your home.
Contact ServiceMaster About Flood Restoration
Insurance can be confusing and overwhelming. You never want to have to use it, but you’ll be grateful if and when a disaster strikes. We encourage you to ask your insurance provider detailed questions about what your homeowner policy covers as it stands and what the benefits would be to getting a flood insurance policy through the NFIP. Even a flood insurance policy will have limitations in what is covered.
ServiceMaster by Rice is always ready to stand in your corner when Mother Nature unleashes her fury. We have offices across Iowa and Southern Minnesota fully equipped to assist you with natural disaster recovery and clean-up services. Find the office closest to you and review the services we offer. Please let us know if you have any questions or how we can help you get life back to normal with our restoration services.