It’s All Going to Melt: Spring Flooding

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Mar 092015
 

shutterstock_63956722It might seem impossible now, but in the coming months the snow covering the ground will begin to melt. As spring’s warmer temperatures begin to melt the snow, they can also bring heavy spring rain. Unfortunately, until the ground thaws, melting snow and rain cannot be absorbed. The excess water runoff overwhelms drainage systems and can overflow lakes, streams and rivers. With nowhere to go, flood waters can inundate nearby homes and businesses.

In addition to the snowmelt, frozen rivers and streams will also begin to thaw. As the ice breaks and travels downstream, ice jams can block the flow of water, creating flooding upstream. The combination of snowmelt, thawing bodies of water and ice jams, with spring rain can result in serious, widespread flooding.

Here are some tips to avoid flooding caused by snowmelt:

  • Remove snow from around your foundation and pay particular attention to the areas around window wells. As snow melts, water could accumulate and seep in. Moving accumulated snow just a few feet away from the house can help avoid a wet basement.
  • Help keep catch basins clear. Where possible, safely clear snow, ice, and debris from the catch basins in your area.
  • Avoid having snow drain next to your house. Make sure your downspouts carry water several feet from your house to a well-drained area.

Water damage caused by flooding is not covered under most standard homeowners policy. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), between 2008 and 2012, the average flood claim was over $38,000. That’s more than most people can afford to pay out-of-pocket for flood damages—and without flood insurance, many must cover the costs to repair or rebuild on their own.

A flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to bring high out-of-pocket costs, and you don’t have to live in a high-risk flood area to suffer flood damage. Depending on the location of your home, you may qualify for a Preferred Rate Policy.

It takes 30-days for a flood insurance policy to take effect, so don’t wait until the snow starts melting. Call OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200 at learn more about flood insurance and how best to protect your home.

Risks of Sea-level Rising and Coastal Homes

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Mar 092015
 

shutterstock_41872231 The Ocean State, with over 400 miles of coastline, is known for its beaches, bluffs, and scenic waterfronts. Rhode Island’s coast is a vital part of the state’s identity, attracting long- and short-term visitors, and offering opportunities for recreation, industry, and simple enjoyment.

Being within a stone’s throw of the beach is a dream for many, but the realities of coastal living can be harsh. There are many crucial factors to consider before buying a home on the coast.

The sea-level rising in Rhode Island has worsened over the years and poses a great risk to coastal homeowners. Since 1930, sea-level rise in Rhode Island has increased an average of 1 inch per decade. However, the rate of sea-level rise has quickened and the sea level along Rhode Island’s coast has risen 6 inches over the last 40 years. By 2100, the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council is planning for 3 to 5 feet of sea level rise.

If the property you are considering is not currently located in a flood zone, it very well may be in the future. Be sure to check the 0.2% risk area to see if the property may be in the flood zone in the future, which, with rising sea levels, may offer a more accurate look at the future floodplain.

While a coastal home presents flooding risks, there are many factors that have changed over the years to better protect coastal properties. Many homes along the coast were built before the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created. Now, requirements designed to increase the flood-resistance of coastal structures have been strengthened within international, federal, and state building codes to meet the requirements of the NFIP.

There are improvements that can be made to a home to better protect it from natural disasters:

  • Consider shoreline protection structures such as seawalls, jetties, breakwaters, and bulkheads.
  • Choose materials that are resistant to damage from flooding, termites and other hazards.
  • Install appliances above a potential flood level. For example, install a front-loading washer on a platform, or over a built-in drawer.
  • Make sure you have a sealed roof deck
    • Consider sealing roof decking seams with six-inch-wide roofing tape as a secondary defense against water damage.
  • Invest in high wind rated roof mounted vents
  • Install gable wall vents that are protected against water intrusion
  • Make sure all door, window, and skylight openings are protected with impact-protection systems
  • Any attached structures should be connected by strapped beams or columns to prevent uplift

Call OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200 to speak with an agent before purchasing a coastal home. We can help you further understand your risks and the importance of flood insurance.

Ride-Sharing Poses Risks You May Not Be Aware Of

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Mar 092015
 

Ride-sharing is the fast-growing system of offering your vehicle for personal transportation services and it is becoming increasingly popular as companies such as UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar continue to grow. These types of operations involve pre-arranged services using an online-enabled application to connect with potential passengers.

As this industry gains popularity and a wider array of programs are available, the potential gaps in insurance coverage for both drivers and passengers are concerning.

If you are considering providing ride-sharing services, you should note the following:

  • Operators/drivers must be licensed by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) and maintain a minimum of $1.5 million commercial liability insurance.
  • You must obtain a special Hackney Operator’s License issued by the DPUC prior to transporting passengers for hire in RI.
  • These services are required to be provided only in vehicles bearing “Public Registration License Plates.”

There are many potential gaps in personal auto policies that you should consider and it is crucial you speak with your insurance agent prior to engaging in ride-sharing.

Potential Coverage Gaps in your own Personal Auto Policy:

Most standard personal auto policies contain exclusions for livery – which essentially means driving for hire. Insurance companies might deny coverage to people that are driving passengers for payment based on the below exclusions or similar exclusions, but you should speak with your insurance agent to be certain which apply to you. All the exclusions below do not apply to a share-the-expense car pool.

Liability Coverage (Exclusion):

Liability Coverage is not provided for any insured’s liability arising out of the ownership or operation of a vehicle while it is being used for public or livery transportation.

Medical Payments Coverage (Exclusion):

Medical Payments Coverage is not provided for any bodily injury to the insured that is sustained while occupying the insured vehicle when it is being used as public or livery transportation.

Coverage for Damage to your Auto (Exclusion):

Loss to your insured vehicle or any non-owned vehicle, that occurs while it is being used for public or livery transportation will not be paid for.

You should contact your insurance agent about potential gaps in your personal automobile coverage that can arise if you are driving for one of these operators. You may need to consider buying a commercial policy with medical payments, comprehensive, collision and Uninsured or Underinsured motorist coverage to be certain that coverage exists for damage to you, your car and/or for damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist while you are driving passengers for payment.

To learn more about the risks of participating in ride-sharing and how to best protect yourself, please call OceanPoint Insurance at 847.5200.