What Are Your Rights: Property Damage & Flood Insurance

Recorded on July 12, 2023

Following the recent flooding that we’ve been seeing in Vermont and New York, many people have questions about what, if anything, is protected by insurance to pay for repairs for their property.

In this week’s “What Are Your Rights?” segment, supervising attorney Cassandra Kazukenus of Harding Mazzotti, LLP is on CBS6 to discuss.

At Harding Mazzotti, LLP, the legal team is committed to ensuring representation and is available to provide answers to your questions and to ensure your rights are protected. For more information, please contact us to learn more, today!

Male Speaker: The following segment is sponsored by Harding Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Well, as you all know, we’ve been reporting a lot on the flooding that we’ve been seeing in Vermont and New York this last week. And as a result, many people have questions about what, if anything, is protected by insurance to pay for repairs for their property. So, right now I’m joined by supervising attorney Cassandra Kazukenus from Harding Mazzotti. So, hi, Cassandra.

Cassandra: Hello.

Interviewer: Thanks for being here with us. First of all, what should homeowners look for in an insurance policy?

Cassandra: So, I just heard a long time ago, there’s actually kind of a simple way to approach it. You look at what’s supposed to be covered by it, so what’s in, and then you take out the exclusions, which are the outs, and you go from there. So, on a homeowner’s policy, or a business property policy, when you open it up, there’s two parts to it. There’s the liability coverage and there’s the property damage part. So, you would wanna look at that section. And when you look at it, it’s gonna tell you what perils are covered.

Sometimes it’ll say any property damage from a direct physical loss, which is broad, or sometimes it’s specific to specific perils like fire or wind. And so, when you look at that, you have to decide whether one of the perils applied. Unfortunately, for most homeowners and business policies, there’s an exclusion for water damage arising from floods.

Interviewer: That was gonna be my next question. Are there policies that do cover flooding?

Cassandra: There are. So, the National Flood Insurance Program, which is operated through FEMA, does offer flood insurance for approximately 23,000 different communities that participate in it. On top of that, any business or home that is in a high-risk flood area that has a mortgage that is has federal backing, they have to have flood insurance. So, if you’re already in a high-risk area, you likely have a separate policy for it. Otherwise, you can also purchase it on your own outside of those programs, through private health insurance or private insurance as well.

Interviewer: Can it apply retroactively in a situation like this?

Cassandra: It cannot, no.

Interviewer: No.

Cassandra: No.

Interviewer: So, what should people do if they find themselves in a situation like what’s going on right now and they need some help?

Cassandra: Yeah, so the first thing is obviously if you have flood insurance, you should put in a claim right away. You should take some videos and pictures to document everything. Preserve some photographic evidence of it. Even if you don’t have that, you should still probably contact your homeowners or business property insurance because there may be some damages that are covered. For instance, in these bad storms, there’s often wind, and that can cause roof damage. So, maybe the roof damage is covered, but not the water damage from the flooding, so that some of it can be piecemeal. So, you would wanna still do that.

And then the last thing is FEMA does have, if your area was declared a natural disaster, FEMA does have some grants, so you can apply for the repairs and some loans that also can work for that.

Interviewer: Okay. Really helpful. Really good information. Timely right now. So, we appreciate you talking to us about it.

Cassandra: Thank you.

Interviewer: Well, for more info covered in our weekly, “What Are Your Rights” segments, or to send us a story idea, just head to our website, cbs6albany.com.

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