Did you know that flooding s the most common and costly natural disaster in the States, according to FEMA? And most homeowners are not adequately prepared to deal with rising flood waters. Why? Here are three common misconceptions about flood insurance needs:
- My homeowners insurance will cover flood damage. False. Home insurance covers lots of things, but flood damage is not usually one of them. You should check your homeowners insurance policy to make sure, but most cases it is not included.
- I can’t afford flood insurance. Not necessarily! FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program have flood insurance polices that you can get at very reasonable premiums. It works by scaling your FEMA risk. The lower your risk, the less your coverage will cost.
- There is no river, stream, lake or pond near my home or business, so I am not at risk for being in a flood zone. False! Flooding can happen anywhere, not just in flood zones. Nearby water sources are not required for an area to be labeled a flood zone. Many areas in the Palmetto State are FEMA-designated flood zones, all with varying levels of risk.
As sea levels rise along South Carolina’s coasts, rivers and lakes may rise as well, causing even more flooding threats to your home and business. This rise in sea levels is not only eroding home values, it is also putting none-costal homes at risk, so it is good to know what flood insurance covers and weigh that against your willingness to risk damage to your home or business.
So what is flood insurance and what does it tend to cover?
According to Insurance Information Institute, “flood insurance covers direct physical losses by flood and losses resulting from flood-related erosion caused by heavy or prolonged rain, coastal storm surge, snow melt, blocked storm drainage systems, levee dam failure or other similar causes. To be considered a flood, waters must cover at least two acres or affect two properties.” Home coverages varies from carriers so it is best to shop your policy before making a choice. It is also important to note, policyholders typically must wait 30 days before their policy takes effect. So you cannot purchase flood insurance once floodwaters begin to rise.
The SCDOI urges all home and business owners to purchase flood insurance. It is more affordable than you might think, and it will save you a lot of money if you are ever the victim of flood waters.
It is back to school time here in South Carolina, and if you’re like many families, that means getting back into a routine. Routines are a great way to make sure your life runs smoothly, but you are also at risk at becoming complacent to actively staying safe when you do the same thing five or more times a week. We are talking about transportation to and from school! Once you get the routine down, you might start doing things on “auto pilot” instead of paying attention to things around you. Here are some things to remember daily as school gets underway:
- Driving to school? Be aware of school busses. You must ALWAYS stop when traveling behind a bus with flashing amber or red lights. If you are traveling in the opposite direction of a bus and you see red lights flashing, you must stop as well.
- When should you stop for a bus: when you are on a four lane road and behind a stopped bus, you must stop. If you are coming from another direction, you do not have to stop, but SHOULD slow down and proceed with caution.
- Keep your eyes on the look out for pedestrians. If you do not stop for a bus, and a child is injured, you will be fined over $1,000 with an additional 6 points added to your license.
- School Zones mean you must drive carefully. Always be on the lookout for zone signs, signals and crossing guards.
- Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to drop off rules at school. Drop students off in designated areas only.
- Be a good example and wear your seatbelt. Don’t start your car until you hear a click from everyone’s seatbelt!Buckling your seat belt is the law – it also is smart and safe. Studies show that using a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a vehicle collision by 50%.
- You’ve got a lot going on, but put the phone down. It can wait. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting. Is that work email worth risking you and your kid’s lives? No.
- Make sure your child knows where to wait on the bus, and that they are on time. Students should be waiting at the bus stop approximately 5-10 minutes ahead of their scheduled pick up times. This allows drivers to adjust to new routes and schedules. Students should wear bright colors which helps with visibility with drivers. Students must stand at least 12 feet from the road. Remind your child how to practice safety while waiting on the bus!
9. Make sure your child ONLY crosses streets at designated crosswalks, street corners and traffic controlled intersections. Drivers may be distracted, but if your child is paying attention, it could save their life.
When disaster strikes, many businesses are forced to close their doors while in recovery, and this puts those businesses at a high risk of never being able to reopen their doors. While you cannot escape Mother Nature, you can be better prepared with a disaster plan and enough insurance coverage to help in recovery and reopening your small business.
A recovery plan has a few elements that are important to follow.
- Be sure to set up a response plan, and know how to use it! Make sure your employees know how to use it too. Things to include: who to notify when there is a disaster, direct steps on how to minimalize property loss and protect lives. Be sure each of these steps are written out in simple language and rehearsed often.
- While you’re at it, include a list of names, numbers and addresses of those who would be needed in a disaster, team members, authorities, contractors, clients, insurance agents and company claim representatives etc.
- Stay in touch with your customers. Find some way to reach out to the community and let them know what is going on. This can be done through social media or by an old-fashioned sign in the window.
- Think about your resources: do you need back up power? Back up phones? How will you deal with team members who cannot get to work, yet the business is still open? Is your building up to code? Make sure it is. It is always a good idea to reach out to other small businesses around you and let them know what you are doing and see if they would like to collaborate on a disaster plan.
Be ready financially by following these steps:
- Figure out what are your critical business activities. If you cannot afford to shut down for a period of time, make sure you have a backup location that you can carry out your work from.
- Protect your data! Make sure all your financial and client data is backed up safely.
- Review your insurance plan and make sure you have sufficient coverage to pay for damages and to cover you for other costs from loss of ability to conduct business.
Types of insurance you should consider:
- Building coverage insures recovery of the physical location if it is destroyed or damaged.
- Business personal property is coverage for contents and inventory damaged or lost.
- Tenants improvements and betterments covers fixtures, installations or any changes made as a result.
- Additional property coverage covers items like fences, pools and so forth.
- Business income covers loss of revenue and your day to day operating expenses.
Keeping your house insured is important – but what about having a plan in place to protect those inside your home in case of a fire? Do you have and practice a house fire escape plan? It could be the difference between life and death in a fire.
While thinking about waking up in the middle of the night to your smoke detector going of and flames lapping through your home is very unpleasant, even scary, thinking about and panning out how you would evacuate your home in this scenario ahead of time could save your life in the event of a fire. It is smart to practice this evacuation plan with those who are inside your home as well so that everyone has the best chance of escaping a house fire.
Most Americans think they would have plenty of time to escape a house fire, but the scary reality is that you could have as little as one or two minutes before being overcome by smoke.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, but shockingly only 47 % of those have practiced their plan. In a house fire, seconds matter and you don’t want to waste them trying to remember what your plan. A good escape plan has a designated outside meeting place and is practiced at least twice a year by everyone within the home.
Here are some other tips on how to best protect yourself and your family in the event of a fire.
- Install smoke alarms inside and outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.
- Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
- Ensure everyone in the household knows the sound of the smoke alarm and what it signifies.
- Ensure everyone in the household can unlock and open all doors and windows, even in the dark.
- If a room has a window air conditioner, make sure there is still a second way out of the room. Windows with security bars, grills, and window guards should have emergency release devices. Make sure you can operate these.
- Conduct family fire drills. Make sure everyone living in the house knows two ways out of every room.
- Pick a meeting place. The meeting place should be a permanent fixture, like a large tree, and should be far enough from the house to ensure everyone’s safety in an emergency.
Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure that someone will help them.
- Teach your children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.
- If the smoke alarm sounds or fire is discovered in your home, get out fast. Close doors behind you as you leave to help stop the spread of the fire.
- Doors need to be tested before opening them. Use the back of your hand to see if the door is warm. If it is, use another escape route.
- Close the door when escaping a fire. A closed door can limit property loss and increase survivability during a home fire.
- If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors with clothes or towels to keep out smoke.
- Call the fire department, wait at a window and signal for help with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
- Once you are out, stay out. Don’t go back inside for any reason.
- Call the fire department from your safe outside meeting place.
- If people or pets are trapped, notify the fire department and let them handle the rescue efforts.