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Planning for the next flood? Here's what insurance covers and what it doesn't

Most basic home policies do not cover floods, almost all car policies do.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — The only thing worse than dealing with water in your basement is figuring out how to pay for it.

Historic rainfall and flash flooding caused flooded basements, sewer back-ups and broken windows across the St. Louis area. Many people purchased flood insurance packages.

"I always say if you can see or hear water near your house, might not be a bad idea to get flood insurance...even if you are not in a flood plain," St. Louis- based State Farm Insurance agent Brennen Sowa said. 

Walking into his office Tuesday morning, Sowa and his team were hit with an onslaught of voicemails and calls from customers with water damage. On flood calls, he hopes the homeowner on the other end of the line has a certain type of coverage. 

"Back up of sewers and drains is what we call it," Sowa explains, "some companies call it something different, like sump pump coverage. It's really any time water is involved and our first thought is hopefully they have this coverage."

Sewer and drain backup is an option, but not standard for home insurance. Many lower-level floods are covered by the sewer and drain add-on, but not all.

"It has to be a backup too," Sowa said, "So unfortunately in situations like this week some people aren't covered under their homeowners insurance and there's really nothing they could have done differently."

Insurance agents like Sowa recommend checking your home regularly for signs of damage, especially around the foundation. 

If your home has flooded before, that does not disqualify you from flood insurance. Flood insurance is available to everyone, even if a home is located on a flood plain. 

Floodwaters don't only hit homes, often times cars are swept up in their muddy wakes. 

"We did have at least one car that I know of that was underwater," Sowa laments. He says flood damage falls under comprehensive."

Most policies cover comprehensive damage, so unlike home insurance, you do not need a separate flood program for your car.

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