flood insurance

Flood Insurance in Western Pennsylvania

Year after year, Western Pennsylvania regularly endures flooding. Over 90% of natural disasters result in some type of flooding. Even fires, which many think are the opposite of floods, result in a flooded home once the fire is extinguished. But there are different definitions to flooding and yours may not be the same as your homeowner’s insurance. Flooding by definition in the insurance industry is ground water above or below ground entering your home. This can range from foundation leaking, heavy rains causing surface flooding etc. This is more common than you think in Western PA. Even a home on a hill can fall victim to heavy rains and flooding from storm sewers ground water etc.

Homeowners and renters insurance do not typically cover flooding. Furthermore, there is usually a 30-day waiting period before policyholders are covered under flood insurance. When you protect your home with flood insurance, it’s important to know what is covered and what isn’t covered. Typically, flood insurance still doesn’t cover personal items (or at least personal items kept in the basement)—although you will be covered for HVAC, wiring, permanently installed appliances, and structural damage (the things your home needs to function). Be sure to review your policy thoroughly with your agent. Finding out parts of your structure or personal belongings are not covered after disaster strikes is not a situation anyone wants to be in.

Understanding Flood Insurance

Also important to know is the difference between actual cash value and replacement value. Replacement value is the cost of rebuilding or replacing any damaged element or item using current or future pricing, this returns your home and/or belongings to their original or better state taking into account inflation etc.  Actual cash value reimburses a depreciated amount for those items based on age and usage as well as expected lifespan. In an actual cash value policy if you have a television originally purchased for $600.00 and its 10 years old with a life expectancy of 20 years you would only receive $300.00 for the television.  If it’s 15 years old you would receive only $120.00. With replacement cost it wouldn’t matter if the television was 1 year old or 25 years old it would still pay to replace a television with the same like kind and quality of the one damaged. The same also applies for structural repairs, believe it or not drywall, paint, plaster, carpet etc. all have expected life spans.

So even though it sounds like you’re getting a raw deal on what’s covered under your insurance, it’s still a great idea for homeowners to pursue even if you don’t live in a flood-prone area. To recognize the immense impact a flood can have on property, just look at those without insurance who have lost their homes in floods.


Henry Duckstein Jr.


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