News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: December 20, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Poizner Warns Southern California Residents Standard Homeowners Policies Do Not Cover Flood Damage
As heavy rainfall continues in Southern California, particularly in areas recently ravaged by destructive wildfires, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner advised all Californians to check their coverage and evaluate their need for flood insurance. He also urged homeowners to review their insurance coverage regularly, including supplemental policies like flood insurance, and to conduct a home inventory to ensure that their homes and possessions are properly covered.
"First and foremost, all Californians should take precautions to stay safe during these storms," said Commissioner Poizner. "It is also essential that homeowners evaluate their individual needs for flood and other supplemental insurance policies. I encourage all homeowners to document their possessions before any type of disaster strikes. Suffering the loss of a home or belongings is an extremely stressful experience. Relying solely on your memory to inventory your assets is a mistake that can be easily avoided."
In California, most standard homeowners' insurance policies do not cover mudslides. Residents are urged to contact their insurers to determine exactly what their current policies will cover and if the purchase of flood insurance is a worthwhile option for them. A flood insurance policy typically takes effect 30 days after it is purchased.
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in response to the rising cost of taxpayer funded disaster relief for flood victims and the increasing amount of damage caused by floods. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flood insurance covers building and contents. The cost is determined by several factors, including the region's flood risk, year the structure was built, and type of structure insured (e.g., residential versus commercial, single-family versus multiple-family).
FEMA manages the NFIP, which makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in communities participating in the NFIP. To assess your need for flood insurance, go to www.floodsmart.gov.
· When driving, do not go around a barricade or through a flooded roadway - barricades have been placed for your protection, as roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water;
· Keep listening to the radio for news about what to do, where to go, or places to avoid - additional flooding or flash flooding can still occur;
· Delay unnecessary errands, but stay on firm ground if you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded - moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet, and standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines; and
· If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground.
INVENTORY YOUR BELONGINGS
A complete household inventory list will provide a permanent record of the home's contents and value, serial numbers listed for electronic items and appliances, and a good indication to the insured of whether current insurance coverage is adequate.
If possible, photograph or videotape household possessions. Pictures are helpful when an item is difficult to describe on paper or if a purchase receipt cannot be obtained. Label each photograph with information about the item. If a camcorder is used, provide commentary of each item and date-stamp on the video. Store a copy of the inventory in a safe-deposit box, work office or relative's house, and include copies of any important documentation or receipts. The list should be updated semi-annually to ensure an accurate recording of the home's contents. A free home inventory guide is available on the California Department of Insurance website.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.