Get Those Children Out of The Muddy, Muddy!

Peg's Ark

Peg’s Ark

Q: What time is it when an ark floats by your house?
A: Time to call your insurance agent.

Ha ha!  Hysterical, right?  We insurance agents have millions of those gems.  I usually save them for clients.  When they realize I’m prepared to tell every, single joke I know until they buy life insurance, even the toughest clients cave in and sign on the dotted line.  But there’s no time for that today.

Today I’m reporting live from the shores of Great Cat Pee Lake, in the area formerly known as my basement.

We’ve had a little rain around here.

And by a little rain I mean we’ve got water, water everywhere, and nary an end in sight.

My house is nestled in the side of a hill.  Rainwater tends to roll down that hill in a straight path, not noticing that our house is in the way.  Rainwater drops right in through the invisible, gaping holes we seem to have in our foundation in a torrent of seepage.  You might think that is an oxymoron, but it isn’t.  Trust me. At the height of the deluge we had a pump running constantly for 6 hours.  Now we just have to turn it on every hour or so to keep up with the fresh seepage.

As you may know, our cat, Beeby, spends much of her time in the basement due to a tendency toward indiscriminate peeing and gacking.  When you add a couple of inches of water to the gack/pee residue it makes cleanup even more fun.

Lot’s of people have it worse as much of this area is under water.  We’re bracing for more flooding as the water rolls on down from Chicago, and there ain’t nobody happy about it.

I’ve spent the last 2 days alternating between answering frantic calls from waterlogged clients (threatening to rip my head from my shoulders if their claims are not covered) and bailing out my own home.  But I’m never too busy for you.  Let me take a few moments out of my hectic schedule to share some valuable, insurance tips.

Listen up, people:

1) Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods.
2) The federal government provides flood insurance, although policies may be issued and serviced by individual companies.
3) Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover backup of sewers and drains, either, although many preferred homeowners policies include some ($5,000 is a common amount.)  Many companies let you add this coverage.
4) Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover seepage.
5)  You can’t buy flood or backup coverage once the monsoon hits. In fact, flood policies generally have a 30-day waiting period.

Obviously, individual policies and states will vary greatly, but the basic principles hold true for most property insurance, personal and commercial.

Here’s the bottom line: if you want someone to pay you when water from outside gets inside, do something to make that happen.   You can’t assume it’s covered; in fact, it’s probably not.

What can you do?

Plan A:

-Get yourself a good, local insurance agent.  Call me a cynic, but I don’t think either Flo or that lizard is going to be available to take your call at 10 on a Friday night when your sump pump dies and the basement is filling up fast.

-Take some time with that agent to find out what kind of coverage you have, and what kind you need.  Do this BEFORE you need what you don’t have.

You don’t have to take my advice.  You can always go with…

Plan B:

-Get yourself a good, sturdy rowboat and a couple of oars.  Need a Boatowners Policy to cover that?

I’ll leave you with a little ditty I learned at Girl Scout camp.  This song has come in handy many times over the years to simultaneously awaken and annoy my kids. (this version courtesy of Aby Guevarra·)

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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50 Responses to Get Those Children Out of The Muddy, Muddy!

  1. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Will Plan A reimburse me for the Ark rental?

    Like

  2. May I never have a pet or a husband who suffers from “indiscriminate peeing and gacking.”

    Row, row, row your boat, Peggy!

    Like

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Good advice. I never thought of an insurance agent having to funnel these calls in times of stress like this, but it makes sense. I feel for you, both for having to deal with these calls when you’re dealing with your own mess and for having to suffer the pains of a watery basement. Hope it works out okay for you.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      The calls are part of the job- I’m just venting. I really do feel for some of these people.

      One lady bought flood insurance only because her bank insisted, then only for the minimum the bank required on the house itself. She called in tears yesterday with the basement flooded and 14″ of water in her living room. She’s glad she has SOME coverage, but it is nowhere near what she’s going to need. Sad, sad.

      Like

  4. Tar-Buns says:

    Thank you for the insurance pro overview. Too bad most people find out they aren’t covered until after they need it.

    The town where I teach is severely flooded, requiring shutting down major streets and bridges so school is closed today. Now we’re into make-up days in June. Damn.

    Hope you and your basement survive the water and pee infusion! Try to have a great weekend!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I never thought I’d see “school is closed today” and “damn” in the same sentence from you, unless the qualifying word “hot” was in front of the “damn.”

      I’m delighted to have a solution to the pesky question of what to do this weekend solved for me. I’ll be dragging stuff out on the grass to dry and bleach/scrubbing the basement, if it doesn’t rain. Whoo hoo! Hope your weekend is dry, Tar.

      Like

  5. Here’s hoping you don’t end up waist deep in the big muddy. . . and that you have a good insurance agent to help you through.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      My agent is useless. (something along the lines of that old quote “a person who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer”)

      Actually, our situation is not covered, because its seepage.

      Like

  6. momshieb says:

    Is your cat male or female? Cuz given the state of the flood, it sounds like you may need another cat of the opposite gender, along with two dogs, two goats, two Koala bears…..etc….

    Like

  7. Elyse says:

    Peg, I don’t envy you. You know my dad was an agent, with his office in our house. During bad weather the phone never stopped ringing and my dad never ate a hot meal. Then again, we didn’t have your cat.

    Good luck and thanks for the smart advice.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It’s not as hectic as in the old days, Elyse, since insurance companies don’t trust agents to do as much anymore. Kind of a good/bad situation.

      It IS good advice, if I do say so myself. Check out your own policy sooner rather than later!

      Like

  8. Good advice. Of course, you would know.

    Like

  9. speaker7 says:

    Can one procure cat pee insurance?

    Like

  10. Janu says:

    Thank you for this valuable information! I have come down with a sever case of FBSD – finished basement spring disorder.

    Like

  11. Pleun says:

    Ouch, sounds like you hit a wet spell there. Hope all will turn out well.

    Like

  12. Kelli says:

    I was never happier than moving out of my house with a basement. You would think in the Midwest I would want one for the severe weather, but nope. I’d rather ride out the storms in my pillow fort bathroom than deal with a flooding basement again. Good luck!!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I remember the pillow fort in the storms in my college apartment, but we built ours in the kitchen. I love having a basement to store junk, until it floods and I think “why do I have this basement full of junk?”

      Like

  13. When the rain is done with you, Peg, it races right over here to Ohio and wreaks havoc on our basement. These sandstone foundations are worthless. Two weeks ago, we had water pouring in from from four different places in the basement. We managed as best we could, but the next day, we had a garbage smell wafting up from the basement. I have no idea what caused that, but it was disgusting! The dehumidifier is still running round the clock. … Great insurance tips. Thanks!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Ugh! I know just what you mean. We came home tonight and the lake is all but gone in the basement, but the whole place stinks. Looks like I have a date with the mop and bleach tomorrow. Blech.
      Sorry for sending all that rain to you, Ohio. We meant for it it go to Indiana.

      Like

  14. We’ll be house shopping next year and I’ll be sure to take your advice and not get one with a basement or a gaking cat.

    Like

  15. rachelocal says:

    I used to sing that song at camp! At 7 am, followed by calisthenics. And lots of eye rolling.

    Sorry to hear about your basement! It’s happened to my parents about four times–all in different houses! Just a few months ago, it was sewage that backed up and flooded their entire finished basement. Ugh. Luckily, the county was at fault so they are paying for repairs.

    PS – I changed my cat’s food and he doesn’t gack anymore. It’s called BFF (for Best Feline Friend. Now you can roll your eyes). It’s grain free and I think that’s the difference.

    Like

  16. amelie88 says:

    Oh Lord flooding… The basement in our old house flooded every time it rained. We used to live below sea level (our town is located along the Long Island Sound) and every single time the carpet downstairs would get damp–I guess we had what you call seepage? The worst was when I was in elementary school, I believe it was Hurricane Bertha? At any rate, it rained so hard that we got a good 2 inches of water that filled the entire basement (this is also where we had our laundry machines). My dad made sure to take up his important electrical tools he didn’t want to get ruined by the water and I’m pretty sure he unplugged all electronics because we could tell it was going to be bad. We even tried to uselessly bail out the water as it came in in buckets. Because of this, it had a very strong mold smell. Finally we moved to the top of a hill and we no longer have an underground basement so no more flooding for us.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Good idea! My next home will be on a mountain top. Then all I will have to worry about are avalanches.

      Like

      • amelie88 says:

        hahaha luckily we do not live on a mountain! Just a nice suburban hill. I couldn’t deal with being so isolated and dealing with the snow. The most dangerous things we contend with are skunks (dad nearly got sprayed a few weeks ago) and the deer who seem to devour everything in their path.

        Like

  17. This is why I not only have a local agent, but am friends with her!

    Sorry you are flooding. Wish I knew what to tell you about the cat problem other than good vinegar spray, both on the spots and on the cat when you catch her / him at it.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I can never catch the sneaky thing. I spent the weekend cleaning the basement and now I am exhausted. All I have to do now is put everything back and pray for no more rain until we figure out how to prevent this from happening again.

      Like

  18. JM Randolph says:

    This is kind of random but I just got notice that my insurance company is canceling my homeowner’s policy because three trees fell on my house within six months of each other. I didn’t even know they could do that. They weren’t even my trees! They say I can object in writing- is it worth it? Or should I just look for a new company? Am I going to be uninsurable? New Jersey’s been hammered the past two years, I can’t be the only one this is happening to. Um, sorry for ranting. Good luck on your Cat Pee Lake cleanup, that sucks.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      That stinks! I don’t know if your state laws have some kind of clause that prevents non renewal , but generally all they have to do is give the required notice. I probably wouldn’t appeal unless you can’t find comparable covg.
      3 claims in such a short period is a lot. I know there isn’t anything you are doing wrong, but claims are supposed to be unexpected and infrequent.
      Good luck with this; it really does stink.

      Like

  19. Al says:

    How ironic you would post this. I just purchased flood insurance, effective 4/7/2013. And you are right, of course, there is a 30-day waiting period, so it is not allowed to rain around here until May 7th. We have a fresh water lake behind us and the Chesapeake Bay one block in front of us. It wouldn’t take much for a hurricane (and we are way, way overdue) to flood us out.

    Good luck with your bailing and pumping. And even though I am a cat lover, I wouldn’t blame you if the feline got “accidentally” sucked into the pump. Oh wait, that won’t work unless it has already used up 8 lives.

    Like

  20. Go Jules Go says:

    Oh nooooo! I’m sorry to hear about your basement, Peggles. Not sure what’s worse – that or the flood of phone calls at work… It does always amaze me when people think they can get coverage AFTER the disaster strikes. (Part of me is like, “YES I feel for you, that sucks, and of COURSE you want someone to protect/help you” but the other part of me is all, “DUHHHHHHH.” Come to think of it, you should just chuck the jokes and go for a solid, “DUHHHHHHH.”)

    Like

  21. I’ve never been so happy to not have a basement. I hope yours dries out soon!

    If not, you can come stay with me. But not your cat.

    Like

  22. GOOOooo! Yikes! Water just won’t give you a break, will it Peg? First no water and now all kinds of water… everywhere… all the time! I hope you don’t have a fully finished basement / find yourself having to replace carpets, drywall, etc… UGH! My back hurts just thinking about it, Peg!
    😦

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      nah, we have the old fashioned, cement-everywhere basement, thank goodness. I was having back twinges yesterday so I’m using that as an excuse to skip going to the Y today. See how I do that?

      Like

  23. Every time I see those home redo shows the gameroom/apartment rental basements look soooo wonderful – but then I remember about seeping, weeping, flooding, mold…
    Houston houses rarely have basements due to high water tables/close to gulf/lake. We do have floods as it’s flat – and if it rains hard enough in any spot, it will flood. They run those TV ads for flood insurance constantly – but still people don’t listen. So odd.
    Hope your pump holds up, and the cat holds it as much as possible, too.
    Glad you aren’t ripping out wet sheetrock and having to haul it upstairs. (sending water diverting thoughts your way!)

    Like

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