Strong storms a reminder to check your insurance policies

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INDIANAPOLIS – Central Indiana’s already seen its share of wild weather so far this week. From damaging storms Sunday to heavy rains Tuesday afternoon, severe weather season is upon us.

Even Tuesday night, wicked winds tore through Edinburgh in Johnson County, sending trees crashing and bending bleachers at the high school.

Rain can come down fast, and if your gutters or storm drains aren’t clear, that water can make it into your home or garage. It may come as a surprise to many people that damage from flash flooding isn’t typically covered in a homeowners policy.

“Most people are not truly aware of everything that is covered under their policies,” said Karl Buetow, owner of McClain Matthews Insurance in Speedway.

Buetow said homeowners often misconstrue their policies. They find out what is and what isn’t covered after the damage is done.

“It’s not only the flood events that you have to look at. It’s also the tornado events and the wind events, all those storm events that happen during this time of year,” said Buetow.

He says a homeowners policy will not pay for damage caused by flash flooding that may occur around your home. If you have flood insurance, it only pays when a flood emergency is declared, typically a designation made by FEMA.

Usually if you live around a body of water, Buetow said you’re required to have a flood insurance policy, but anyone can buy one no matter where you live.

“The less likelihood of a flood happening, the less expensive the policy,” he said.

Homeowners policies cover wind and hail damage. But Buetow said beware of the deductible. Now, insurance companies are charging one to two percent of the dwelling’s coverage value to make up for years of more damaging storms and more costly payouts both here and across the country.

“It’s a very new trend within the industry,” he said.

Judy Donner lives in Eagle Creek and got a new roof after a hailstorm years ago slammed her roof and hit her home’s siding. Other homes in her neighborhood took a beating, too.

“Sometimes it takes a disaster to even know if you’re covered,” she said.

Donner said after that storm she started asking questions and now considers herself more prepared.

“I sure hope I know what’s in my insurance policy,” said Donner.

If you’ve got a basement, there are other ways you can protect yourself. Buetow advises looking into additional policies homeowners can purchase that protect against sump pump failure. He said said it’s a good idea to pick up the phone and call your insurance agent this time of year to make sure you’re on the same page.

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