UNITED STATES—Half of California homeowners unaware their home insurance does not protect against flooding, reveals study.

With changing weather patterns and our country’s propensity for storms, it’s safe to say that Americans are more used than most to the sad reality of the damage caused by extreme weather. And the goal of any family is to protect their own household, just in case the worst should ever happen. But how reliable are our insurance companies, really? And are we really aware of just what is covered when we take out a policy? There is no greater fear than reading the fine print after the event, to find out our insurance company isn’t liable for damage from something like flooding, a hurricane, or a burst pipe after all…

In the aftermath of the havoc wreaked by Hurricanes Florence and Michael on the East Coast, water damage restoration service ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba conducted a survey of 3,000 homeowners to find out how clued up we are about our home insurance policies. And it seems that quite a few of us are ignorant of what exactly we are protected for. The survey found that over 1/2 of California homeowners (56 percent) incorrectly assume that their standard home insurance covers them for damage caused by flooding, when in fact you need to buy additional insurance for flooding protection.

This statistic is higher than the national average (47 percent) when they were asked the same question, suggesting that Californians are less clued up than most other homeowners. When it’s broken down by state, the results showed that those in Oregon are the least aware of how much cover their home insurance provides, with over three quarters of Oregonians (79 percent) ignorant of the facts.

To find out how each state compares, check out this interactive map: https://www.servicemasterbyzaba.com/blog/flood-unsureance/ (click on ‘embed’ to host)

The survey also found a fairly unsurprising fact, which is that a massive 79 percent of us do not trust insurance companies. However, it seems we have no-one but ourselves to blame for this; a shocking 59 percent of us admit we do not read the fine print when purchasing home insurance. And we only spend on average 9 minutes shopping around for what we think is the best home insurance deal.

We’re our own worst enemy again around winter time, when 42 percent of homeowners confess to never taking any preventative steps to preparing our home in winter to avoid burst pipes and flooding, and nearly half of us (46 percent) are worried about global warming, so we really should prepare better.

When it comes to insurance as a whole, the type we Americans hate trying to organize the most is health insurance (34 percent), followed by home insurance (16 percent), pet insurance (16 percent), travel insurance (16 percent), life insurance (13 percent), and car insurance (6 percent).

Better to be prepared just in case, and not have to call on your insurance, than have the wrong type, or no, protection,’ says Diana Rodriguez Zaba from ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. ‘We see how families’ lives are affected by damage from flooding and other natural causes, when all it would take is to read the small print properly before signing up and avoid heartache and financial worries after the event.’

Finally, here are our top tips on how to prepare your home for burst water pipes in winter:

  • Apply coating or sealants to your house foundations, walls windows and doorways. This will help water from leaking into your home through the cracks.
  • Install a sump pump or foundation vents that allow flood water to flow through the home opposed to pooling around it. A sump pump would be used to pump water out of a basement that may have flooded.
  • If you have mulch around your home, it is important to make sure that there is plenty of space between that and your siding. Wet mulch can rot the siding and cause leaks in the home and basement.
  • Turn your gutter run offs and downspouts away from the house to avoid any excessive amounts of water pooling by the side of your home, which can lead to leaking in the basement. Also clear out your gutters and drains to ensure water is able to flow freely through them.
  • Keep your home well heated in winter, even if you are out to prevent pipes from freezing and potentially bursting. And make sure you fix your leaky taps, even if it is just dripping slightly. The water could freeze in the cold weather and cause a burst pipe. If your home is going to be unoccupied for a long period of time, it may be best to turn off the water at the stopcock and perhaps drain the system so that there is no water left in the pipes.