Don't Wait for the Flood

Here's a bit of insurance trivia for you: Nearly 25% of all claims the National Flood Insurance Program pays out are for policies in low- to moderate-risk areas. This statistic should serve as a reminder that even if you don't have a beachfront home, or a lovely cottage on a lake, or even a trailer down by the river, you might still want to make sure you've got sufficient protection against floods.

If you're assuming that your home insurance policy covers flooding, you're probably wrong. Most such policies don't. In fact, grab a copy of your policy. I'll wait. You might be surprised by what's not covered when you sit down to read it. I found out that my own policy didn't protect me against earthquake damage, so I opted to pay a little extra for that.

Here's another thing that might surprise you: If you're watching a TV reporter standing in a rain slicker, describing a hurricane that's pounding the shore a few states away from you, it's too late to buy flood insurance to protect yourself from that storm. Flood insurance policies typically take a month or so to kick in.

Here are some good-to-know tips on the topic.

  • Make an inventory of your possessions. This is something we should all do, whether we live on the coast, in a desert, or anywhere in between. You never know when some disaster -- perhaps a fire -- will occur, and if it does, you may need to furnish your insurer with a detailed list of your possessions. Consider taking lots of photos or a video of your home, and make sure to zero in on everything of value. Keep a copy of the documentation somewhere other than your home.
  • To prepare for the kind of life disruption that hurricanes can bring, make sure you have ample food supplies on hand, along with water and a first-aid kit. Keep important papers stored in a waterproof bag. Stock some batteries and solar-powered lights, along with a bunch of cash, too. (You might not be able to get money from your bank for a while.) Be sure to have a corded phone, since cordless ones won't work when the power is out. Before the weather ever gets bad, trim any tree limbs that might fall on your property during a storm. And have a pet carrier for Fluffy or Fido.

Keep learning
Learn more in our Insurance Center. You may not have thought about some kinds of insurance, such as disability or long-term care insurance, which are vital for many people. And, of course, properly insuring your property is crucial, too. Take a little time to learn more; you may be very happy you did, if some calamity occurs in the future.

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And if you want to save some money in the process, do yourself a favor and take a free test-drive, of our Motley Fool Green Light newsletter service. It aims to deliver hundreds of dollars in money-saving ideas each month, and even boasts some solid investment ideas. The free trial will give you full access to all past issues.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian appreciates your feedback. The Motley Fool isFools writing for Fools.

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