Get Started: Many businesses uninsured for flood damage

FLOOD INSURANCE BASICS

When hurricanes or rivers swollen by heavy rains send floodwaters into businesses, many owners are left with steep financial losses because they didn't have flood insurance.

Standard business insurance doesn't cover flood damage, something many owners may not realize when they buy a policy. Flood insurance, which is regulated by the federal government, must be purchased separately through a broker or an insurance company.

Many owners don't buy flood insurance because of its cost or the belief that they don't need it. In high-risk areas, annual premiums can run into the thousands of dollars and rise by double-digit percentages each year. Owners in low-lying areas or near oceans and rivers often know they're at risk, but many can't afford the premiums.

Just because a company is located far from the coast or a body of water doesn't mean it's immune from the possibility of flooding. Heavy rains like those that fell on Houston following Hurricane Harvey last month can also cause flooding that can be covered by flood insurance. So can melting snow and blocked storm drains. Businesses without flood insurance won't be covered.

During a hurricane, damage caused by water pouring into a hole in a wind-torn roof is covered, but not the destruction caused by floodwaters that come in through a window or door. More than half the businesses and homes in the Houston flooded during and after Harvey were estimated to be uninsured for flood losses, according to CoreLogic, a research company.

Flood insurance is mandatory for some companies, those that are in high-risk areas and that have mortgages from lenders regulated or insured by the federal government.

You can find information online about flood insurance, including maps showing an area's flood risk, at the National Flood Insurance Program website, www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program . The Insurance Information Institute, an industry group, also has information at www.iii.org . Some state and local governments, particularly those in high-risk areas, also have information on their websites.

HELP FOR WOMEN OWNERS

Women business owners who find it hard to get financing for their companies can learn about their options at an online seminar sponsored by SCORE, the organization that gives free counseling to small companies. The seminar will be held Thursday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. You can learn more and register at http://bit.ly/2yCIx7l .

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Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.com/search/joyce%20rosenberg

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