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Flooding: Everyone is Exposed, Few are Insured, But New Options Entice

ADJUSTERSINTERNATIONAL.COM 9 • Attached, not separated stairways and staircases; and • Elevators, dumbwaiters and related equipment, unless installed below the base flood level after Oct. 1, 1987. Under the ISO Personal Flood form used as a basis for some private residential flood policies, there is no restriction on coverage for building property in levels that are below grade or below the lowest level of an elevated structure. Coverage is also explicitly extended to building equipment installed to service a building or detached garage. The ISO Personal Flood form excludes coverage for personal property “in a below ground area”(e.g., a basement) but also includes an exception preserving coverage for functioning air conditioners; clothes washers and dryers; and refrigerators and freezers, including the food in them. Dealing with Property in Basements and Below Grade When considering flood insurance for a residential property, the property owner needs to be aware of key limitations regarding coverage for property in basements. Under an NFIP flood form, a basement is defined as “any area of the building, including any sunken room or sunken portion of a room, having its floor subgrade (below ground level) on all sides.” However, a room is not considered a basement if (1) it is below grade on three sides, and (2) has a door that opens out onto dry land that is lower than the subgrade floor. The following types of property are not covered under an NFIP Dwelling Policy when in a basement: • Personal property; • Finished walls, floors and ceilings; • Doors and cabinets; • Stoves and dishwashers; and • Building equipment not identified as covered. Coverage under an NFIP form is restricted to the following types of property in a basement, along with related clean-up costs: • Drywall and ceilings (excluding the cost to paint them); • Backed-up sewer lines; • Sump pumps; • Heat pumps; • Water tanks and pumps; • Fuel tanks, including the fuel in them; • Cisterns and the water in them; • Central air conditioners; • Non-flammable insulation; • Furnaces and water heaters; • Clothes washers and dryers; • Freezers and food stored in them; • Electrical junction and circuit breaker boxes;