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May 05, 2010

Did your Insurance agents do all they could to get you flood insurance before the Nashville flood?

Now that the flood waters are receding, we as Tennesseans have to start dealing with the aftermath of the greatest natural disaster to ever hit Middle Tennessee. As we assess the damage, we are encountering problems from places we never even considered- our insurance companies.
Many Tennesseans, being forced to confront dramatic life-altering events, are trying to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, a large number of people are contacting their insurance companies, only to find they are not covered for water damage caused by the storm. A great many homeowners wrongly thought they were protected, only to find their insurance agent neglected to sell them the proper and necessary insurance.
What are you going to do if you are not covered from water damage? Did your insurance agent fail to tell you about flood insurance? Did he or she explain the difference between damage from flood waters and damage from surface water? Did he or she tell you that you could have been protected from the storm? If he did not, and you are damaged as a result, you may have recourse in court.

Why Aren’t You Covered?
Insurance policies and the coverage they provide are very specific contracts. While many policies cover against loss caused by forces of nature, they are very specific as to what exactly is covered. Unfortunately, most people file claims involving the end result of these occurrences which center around damage caused by the accumulation of surface water or flooding of the insured’s property. This indirect storm damage is typically not covered under the standard insurance policy. However, because of the great likelihood of water damage to one’s premises, most people would purchase protection- if they only knew to do so.
A simple and relatively inexpensive addition can be made to most insurance policies to insure against loss by forces of nature, including damage from floods or surface water. Such an addition usually allows an insured to make a claim for general water damage which, depending on the wording of the policy, may include damage which is caused by surface water, flooding, or sewer backup.
In its most basic terms, “flood” is defined as the rising of natural bodies of water. As it applies to Tennesseans, the clearest example is people impacted by the overflow of lakes, streams, and, of course, the Cumberland River.
On the other hand, “surface water” is defined as “water from rain, or detached from subsiding floods, that lies or flows on the surface of the earth, but does not form a part of a watercourse or lake.” In simple terms, surface water is the accumulation of water on the ground. Unbelievably, this is separate from “rain,” which is defined as “water falling from the sky.” Unfortunately, the great likelihood is any damage Tennessee’s flood victims have experienced was caused by “surface water” and not “rain.
As to both floods and surface water, most insurance policies exclude damage caused by them. Again, as to both floods and surface water, for a relatively small additional premium, coverage for damage is available. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it is becoming quite apparent that most of our residents did not receive proper explanation from their agents and, as a result, are not properly protected.
While most policies do not include coverage against damage caused by floods or surface water, insurance against both is available for an additional premium from most insurers, under the National Flood Insurance Act.
What Can You Do?
Just as a doctor is obligated to advise what your treatment options are, your insurance agent is obligated to explore what type of coverage you need. The failure to offer to sell you the proper insurance is a negligent act that you are entitled to be compensated for if you are damaged. This is accomplished through an “Errors and Omissions” lawsuit against the agent.
Our state and federal courts have consistently held that, if an agent fails to properly instruct as to the type of insurance available, and that such a policy would be readily purchasable, that agent is responsible for losses that would have otherwise been covered. In the case of Tennesseans damaged in the flood, the negligent failure to advise insured people of the need for flood insurance, or coverage against surface water, may well be actionable.
We Can Help
Many of our neighbors in Nashville have already called us about their flood insurance deficiency. We are available to help those financially harmed by the flood so they may navigate the murky waters of insurance. We are committed to aggressively pursuing Tennesseans’ insurance claims to prevent the non-payment or underpayment by insurance companies of legitimate insurance claims.
In aggressively representing your interests, we can help your family survive the difficult process of rebuilding. In the event you need assistance covering your storm damage, contact us at 615-256-6666 ask for Dave Weissmanor use the email option to the left of the screen. We WILL return your call or email.
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