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Hurricane Harvey Prompts Question: Should Ohioans Buy Flood Insurance?

Esther Honig
The Red Cross responds to flooding after heavy storms in June 2016.

While insurance adjusters continue their sweep of Houston after Hurricane Harvey,  Ohioans wonder how much coverage they need to buy in case of major flooding. After all, this area saw a powerful rainstorm of its own in late July. 

Previous storms have caused flash flooding, power outages and even deaths across Ohio. 

"Unfortunately, people tend to underestimate the risk of flooding, and therefore not a lot of people purchase the coverage," says Dean Fadel of the Ohio Insurance Institute.

He says that standard homeowner's or renter's insurance policies don't cover flooding, nor do most commercial property insurance policies. But he says it's available in a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.

"The federal flood insurance program is only available where local governments have adopted the adequate floodplain management regulations and it has been designated as a flood plain area by the National Flood Insurance Program," Fadel says.

He says if a major rainstorm leads to flooding in your home, contacting the National Flood Insurance Program should be the first step. But people should check with their own insurance companies as well, especially if they have a finished basement, because they can add additional coverage for storm water incidents.

That coverage would also, in most cases, apply to sewage backups or pump malfunctions too.

"It depends on how much your home is worth and how much you're covering," Fadel says. "But it's relatively inexpensive, it's not a large percentage of what your total premium would be."

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.