The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is encouraging people to buy their flood insurance policies early this year.
Melissa Fox, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, said the buildup of snow and ice in the winter can lead to early spring floods.
With more than 50,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks, Pennsylvania reported $1,425,000 in damages in 2012.
Fox said homeowners are required to carry flood insurance if they live in a designated flood plain, Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area.
She said flooding can happen to homes inland and away from major waterways.
“If you have a home that is near a creek or a pond that could overflow or you live near a steep hill where water can run down or melting snow, that puts you at risk for flood damage,” Fox said.
It normally takes 30 days after purchase for a policy to take effect, she said, so it’s important to buy before a flood occurs.
Fox said homeowners insurance only covers floods in rare cases, and not all flood insurance will protect your belongings.
“Your foundational elements that are located in your basement, things like your furnace, your water heater, things like that, are typically going to be covered in your flood policy,” she said. “If you have a finished basement such as paneling, rugs, furniture, things of that nature, those types of items will not be covered in your policy.”
People can find out more about how to apply for flood insurance and whether they live in a high-risk area from the federal FloodSmart website.