Although acts of nature cannot be fully anticipated or avoided, actions you take now can better prepare you and help protect your property against the ravages — and financial losses — brought about by floodwaters.
The National Weather Service (NWS), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has published actionable flood safety tips for personal safety before, during and after a flood, which should be reviewed and integrated into your personal flood action plan. For preserving and protecting commercial properties, we suggest the following tips also be considered.
Before the Flood
Know These Definitions — Almost any time it rains, flooding occurs somewhere. Because local NWS offices issue frequent notifications and updates of flood hazard possibilities and probabilities, it is vitally important to understand how they define and differentiate various flood hazards :
- FLOOD — any high flow, overflow, or inundation by water which causes or threatens property damage
- FLASH FLOOD — a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level.
- FLOOD WATCH — conditions are favorable for flooding to develop
- FLOOD WARNING — flooding is occurring or will occur soon.
- FLASH FLOOD WATCH — conditions are favorable for flash flooding to develop.
- FLASH FLOOD WARNING — flash flooding is occurring or imminent
- RIVER FLOODING — occurs when rivers rise and overflow their banks, inundating areas that are normally dry.
Know the Risk — Is your commercial property located in a flood plain? How close is the property to the coast, to rivers or to other bodies of water that may be prone to flooding? What are the property and building elevations? Do you possess a current FEMA Elevation Certificate (EC) for commercial properties, showing the location of the building, the Lowest Floor Elevation, building characteristics and flood zone? A current EC is needed by your insurance provider to accurately determine the amount of flood insurance you are required to carry.
Review What Your Insurance Policy Covers — Most commercial property insurance policies do not cover flood damage. And, storm surge damage is also not typically covered under commercial property policies unless the insured has additional flood coverage (which is why separate flood insurance policies issued through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are mandatory for homes located in flood-prone areas). Also, flood insurance does not cover all types of damage caused by water.
Even when a commercial property is NOT in a designated flood zone, flood insurance to adequately cover building and content losses is smart. As the FEMA website states, “floods can happen anywhere — just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage.” Without flood insurance, that damage becomes a significant out-of-pocket expense.
Prepare Your Property — Well before flooding threatens, have sandbags ready to be deployed for protecting your property from floodwaters. If your property must be evacuated, make sure your building manager knows to shut off the electrical system's circuit breakers and mains.
Leave — If dangerous flooding is a likelihood, and you have been ordered to evacuate your property, lock the doors and leave immediately
Utilize Your Smart Phone — Bookmark the NWS’s River Levels website to monitor flood forecasts and river conditions. Also, install your utilities’ apps to learn when power and other services to your property are back on line.
During the Flood
Proceed with caution, as roads may already be flooded. Flood waters can be much deeper than they appear, and hidden hazards and currents can cause injuries and even carry vehicles away. If you have to evacuate on foot during the flood, do not walk through flood waters and do not allow others (especially children) to do so. Be especially wary of water near downed electric lines, and do not enter any structure where electrical outlets or cords may be submerged.
Monitor the news on the NOAA Weather app and listen to your NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information.
After the Flood
Stay in a safe area until authorities issue the “All Clear.” Then, practice caution if attempting to return to your property. If you see standing water, avoid it (standing water often contains toxins, bacteria, chemicals and sharp objects).
Once you have reached your property, be aware that flood damage can cause floors, ceilings and walls to weaken or collapse. Check with utility providers to make sure water is safe to use and other services are back on line. Never use portable generators inside the building because the carbon monoxide produced is deadly.
Be equipped to describe and photographically document all damage to your property, but use extreme caution while doing so.
If You Have a Claim
AmCap Insurance gives you several options for filing a claim. File online using the “Submit a Claim” button on the AmCap Insurance website. Or, have your agent submit an Acord Property Loss Notice to our dedicated claims inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org). You may also call us 24/7 at 833-652-5246.
Once we receive the claim notice, an AmCap Insurance claims representative will contact you to confirm receipt, start the investigation and answer any questions. We may also ask for photos showing the reported damage, a detailed, written description of damages incurred, and a determination if emergency mitigation resources are needed.
Flooding is a natural phenomenon and, as with other such events, a serious flood may occur with short or no notice, causing real damage. The extent of your planning and preparation may well be the single most important contributing factor to your family’s wellbeing and your property’s protection. With an affordable AmCap Insurance flood insurance policy— offered through the NFIP — condo association and commercial property policyholders can experience increased peace of mind.
One last note: there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance policies to take effect. The very active 2020 hurricane season officially ends November 30, 2020, so it is essential to purchase policies before the next storm arrives.
For agents authorized to write flood insurance, call 833-261-6492 for customer service or 888-481-1126 for claims. For more information about flood insurance, contact Rob Munns at email@example.com.