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3/20/2013 - March: In like a lion, out like ... a lion?

Floods can cause serious amounts of damage to residential properties.

Though there's been a long history of March snowstorms, this is traditionally the time of year in which frozen precipitation starts to ease as the weather gets warm and the days move closer to spring. But throughout the country, that hasn't been the case, as many locations have been pelted by record-setting snowfall totals.

For example, in Minnesota, local winter weather reports describe "snow totals to record territory." In North Dakota, the Grand Forks Herald posted the headline "Grand Forks sees record snowfall for date." And in Chicago, national news agency CNN used similar language to describe the high levels of snow that the Windy City and the surrounding areas have received.

The monster snowstorm trend has some meteorologists anticipating a March that will go out with a bang, rather than a whimper as previous third months of the year have. While these predictions may be premature, one thing that's certain is that all the wet weather is bound to cause water damage problems for a considerable number of homeowners once things begin to thaw.

III: More than one-fifth of all insurance losses stemmed from water damage in 2010
With this in mind, it's Flood Safety Awareness Week, and the Insurance Information Institute reminds property owners throughout the country that homeowners insurance losses from water damage account for a significant portion of the claims insurers see this time of year. According to liability risk agency ISO, water damage in 2010 comprised more than 20% of insurance losses for homeowners, the brunt of which stemmed from frozen or burst pipes.

Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president of the III, indicated that it doesn't have to take a sizeable amount of water for residents to experience issues.

"Even a small amount of water can cause serious damage to your home," said Salvatore. "That is why it's important to have the right type and amount of insurance, including flood insurance."

III notes that it's important to know which types of coverage apply to specific water-related conditions. For example, both flood insurance and homeowners insurance can provide for damaged caused by water. However, if the rain or snow is from the top down, a homeowners policy applies. But if the damage is from the bottom up - such as if a river overflows - flood insurance is the plan that will kick in.

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