The information here is provided only to be a helpful starting point for canyonites. Always check with your insurance agent about the details that apply to your situation. ICL and its members cannot assume any liability for the information here.
Most Californian's know their all perils doesn't really cover "all" perils. Years ago I was astonished to discover my homeowners policy excluded meteorite strikes to my roof!
Most California homeowners know their basic insurance doesn't cover earthquake damage. What's less well known is it won't cover damage to your property and possessions from flooding and mud either.
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Flood policies are issued by private insurers, but they are underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is managed by FEMA.
There is a 30 day waiting period after you purchase a NFIP flood policy before it goes into effect. So you can't simply wait until the day before that giant storm is upon us to decide to get a policy. If you want to act, do it now; the rainy season is almost here.
To get more information on flood risk and insurance, talk to your insurance agent and also have a look around this link: www.floodsmart.gov
I had to do a lot of fiddling around to figure out how to get specific information, but it turns out you can easily access the flood risk map for your own property address at: https://msc.fema.gov/portal
Put in your full address and click "Search". When the map comes up, click on "Interactive Map" (at the left) to bring up the the flood zone map for your area.
For example, the map at the left shows the assessed flood risk for my home at the back of Modjeska Canyon. The blue area over the stream is a flood risk of 1%, and the yellow shaded area above it is over the back of the houses and showing a flood risk of 0.2% .
These maps are useful, and they affect the premium you pay. But everyone who's lived in the canyons knows that regardless of where you live there is always the possibility of flood and mud damage when it rains. My neighbor says without much humor that he's been through four 100-year floods since moving here 20 years ago.
Canyonites also know all too well that mud can cause far more serious damage and destruction than the floodwaters that carry it. Flood insurance covers mudflows, but not generally mudslides. The difference may seem subtle, but it's important as it will determine whether you have coverage after a storm causes mud damage to your home.
"Mudflows" are 'rivers of mud' carried by floodwaters into a place where water usually doesn't go. Such as your normally-dry living room. "Mudslides" are considered earth movements and are difficult (or outright impossible) to cover. Contact your insurance agent if you have any questions about what is covered on your policy and what else might be available to you.
In some cases an earthquake rider, if you have one, might cover some types of mudslides, but usually not. If a mudslide was the direct result of a previous fire denuding a hillside, AND you can prove that (you'll need a lawyer), you may have coverage under your fire insurance.
Premiums are mainly based on your property's flood risk, the coverage you want, and the deductibles you select. Unlike earthquake policies, they usually aren't terribly expensive unless you live in a very high-risk area.
As a reference point, my own flood policy for $250,000 of property flood coverage, $100,000 of contents coverage, and a $1,000 deductible on each was $414 last year.
Another thing to think about is contents coverage. Contents coverage is optional with flood policies. Discuss it with your agent, especially if you have valuables that could be damaged or lost in a flood or mudflow.
And as with any form of contents insurance, be sure to document what you have and keep that information in a safe place. Fires and floods can destroy your records making it much harder to make your case to your insurer. I highly recommend you upload your photos and receipts to a "cloud" location like iDrive, Google Drive or an online backup service for safekeeping. Modern smartphone cameras now make this very easy.
One more thing to think about is your deductible. This is what you'll have to shell out before your insurance starts kicking in anything. If your loss is below your deductible, insurance won't pay you anything. So consider how much risk you want to take on (or as it's known: "self-insure.") The deductibles for property and contents coverage are separate, and you can elect different limits for each. Increasing your deductible, if you can afford the extra risk, might substantially reduce your costs.