Jansing and Co   |  August 29, 2011

Most people not insured for flood damage

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, many people will be combing over their insurance policies. What they find, or don't find, might surprise them. NBC financial analyst Vera Gibbons advises on how to ensure you get the most from your insurance company.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> no good time for a hurricane but irene couldn't come at a worst time for families struggling to make things meet. are they covered from the terrible damages from these floods? vera gibbons joins me live.

>> i ran to look at my insurance policy .

>> you probably did it ahead of the game a lot of people wait until this happens.

>> i couldn't have done anything about that.

>> you can't amend your coverage in the middle of the storm. you can't change it.

>> are most of us covered for flood damage ?

>> not for floods. you would have had to have bought separate flood insurance . it is a separate thing all together. unfortunately, a lot of people are affected. the insurance information is that fewer than one-fifth of u.s. homeowners have flood insurance . if you don't have flood insurance .

>> the five natural disasters . if you don't have this flood insurance , you are out of luck. it might be a good time to think about getting it now for future storms.

>> no matter where you are, if you are anywhere near a river --

>> that floodsmart.gov would be the site to go to.

>> let's talk about people now. if they have flooding, get to your insurance company as fast as possible?

>> take a look at the damage, call your insurance company as soon as upon. they will handle the most important cases at first. if your house is uninhabitable, you need to take pictures and inventory.

>> that's one thing we warned people about beforehand. no matter where you live, you should have a picture of every room in your house and anything that is remotely valuable.

>> don't throw anything away. before the adjustster geer gets there, you need to have everything just so to substantiate your loss. it will make the claims process easier, faster, move things along.

>> it is $6 billion for hurricane isabelle. what are we looking for for irene? he thinks it is going to be much more than the earlier estimates. we have month are flooding that may happen.

>> they are saying 7 billionish. that doesn't take into consideration the loss of life. you have to go back insurancewise and take a look at what you have got. wind-driven damage is going to be covered. the flood stuff is not. you need to take a look at your deductible as well. in some states, virginia, massachusetts, new jersey, new york, you may have a special hurricane deductible, which ace percentage of the insured value, typically 1% to 5%, if you have that, you are going to be responsible for the first $4,000 in damage before your insurance policy kicks in.

>> i know it is going to vary depending on your policy and how back-loggeded they get. generally, how long does it take to get the money?

>> it depends on the state. it shouldn't be that long. it should be just a couple of weeks. they don't have this huge backlog. it was not as bad as anybody thought. about $7 billion. early estimates were $20 billion, $30 billion.

>> for those of us who were fairly smug we didn't get hit, it is not a bad time to reconsider insurance, taking all those pictures or videos of what you do have. vera, always good to see you. you have power too?

>> i have power. i can watch msnbc the rest of the day.

>> we like that. vera gibbons,