Wet weather tips for drivers, homeowners


Staff report



COLUMBUS — Recent rains have caused flooding throughout much of Ohio. With more rain in the forecast, AAA urges motorists and homeowners to use caution when dealing with rising waters.

AVOIDING WET WEATHER DRIVING MISHAPS

Crash risk increases in wet weather. Heavy rain reduces visibility and decreases vehicle traction. Conditions are most dangerous during the first 10 minutes of a heavy downpour as oil and debris first rise up and wash away. The following tips can keep drivers safe in wet conditions:

Maintain tires: Tires are the main point of contact with the road. Adequate tire pressure and tread depth help the vehicle grip wet roads and prevent hydroplaning. Check tire pressure and tread depth regularly before driving.

Improve visibility: Keep the windshield and headlights clean, and replace windshield wipers that leave streaks. Experts recommend replacing wipers every six months.

Recognize a crisis: If rain is so heavy that you can’t see the edges of the road or other vehicles at a safe distance, it’s time to pull off and wait for the rain to ease up. It’s best to stop at a rest area or exit the freeway and go to a protected area. If that’s not an option, get as far off the road as possible and turn on vehicle hazards.

Avoid cruise control: Cruise control is designed for dry road conditions and doesn’t know when the pavement is wet. You’re more likely to hydroplane when using cruise control, because you’re not really in complete control of your vehicle. With some cars the wheels actually spin faster when cruise control is engaged and the vehicle hits a slick spot.

Never drive through high water: A car can lose control in just a few inches of water. Six inches of water will reach the undercarriage of most vehicles and can damage vehicle components or even stall a car’s engine. Just a couple feet of water can carry away most vehicles.

COVERING THE COST OF FLOODING

Just one inch of water can cause more than $20,000 in damage, according to FEMA, but floods can bring waves of water many feet high.

The right insurance can help save motorists and homeowners thousands of dollars in the event of a flood, but it’s important to understand which type of insurance is needed to cover various types of flood damage. AAA Ohio Auto Club Insurance Agency offers the following advice:

Flood Insurance: Federal law requires flood insurance for federally financed loans for those who live in high-risk flood zones. Lenders may also require flood insurance for moderate risk zones. Unless it’s due to the new purchase of a home, there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to provide coverage so you must plan ahead. If you wait until the storm is on the way, you’ve likely waited too long.

Homeowners Insurance: Flooding can also occur due to clogged drains or pipes, sewer backup or sump pump failure. Flood insurance does not typically cover sewer backup or sump pump failure. In these cases, homeowners insurance can help cover the costs. Often this coverage is added to the policy as an endorsement.

Comprehensive Auto Insurance: A comprehensive auto insurance policy is needed to cover the costs of a vehicle damaged by flood waters.

More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside of flood plains, according to FEMA. The National Flood Insurance Program helps homeowners determine their flood risk and help them learn about safeguarding their property. For more information, visit floodsmart.gov.

HOME INVENTORY

An up-to-date home inventory can help flood victims get their insurance claim settled faster. It also helps people purchase the right amount of insurance, so they’re protected from loss. The most effective way to take inventory of a home is to shoot video of the entire home.

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Staff report