What are your flood risks?
The first step in flood safety is to know the risks, and this involves finding out what type of flooding you may be vulnerable to. If your home is near the coast or a body of water that could spill over its banks, or if you live in a low lying area or valley, you may be in a high risk flood zone. You can check flood hazard maps, created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which can show you whether you live in one of these high risk areas and where your risk comes from. Call an insurance agent like us and we can also let you know which flood map you are in. But even if you’re not in a high risk zone, you’re not immune to the potential for flooding, as heavy rains can fall almost everywhere, and if the ground cannot absorb it, the water has to go somewhere. According to FloodSmart.gov, 20% of all flood insurance claims come from areas that are not designated as high risk. So you have flood exposure anywhere.
Another factor to consider when evaluating your risk of flooding is development and new construction in your area. A development project or new construction can drastically alter how the ground in the area is able to absorb water from rain or melting snow, particularly when the ground around the project is cleared of trees and other brush that help absorb ground water, or if the project has large paved areas, like parking lots, that could impact drainage and run-off. This could be true whether it’s a relatively small project like a new home being built next door to something much larger, like a shopping center, which may be large enough to impact flood risk for an entire neighborhood.
Unfortunately, many people may not know that flood damage is not covered by homeowners insurance. Flooding is excluded from homeowners coverage, as flood risk is very widespread and impacts all 50 states. In fact, in high risk areas, the risk of a home being damaged by a flood is twice that of it being damaged by a fire, according to FloodSmart.gov.
Flood insurance may not just be desirable for homeowners, it may be required. For example, mortgage lenders are legally bound to require consumers buying a house in a high-risk flood zone to have flood insurance.
If you own or rent property in low- or moderate-risk flood areas, you can buy flood insurance, and may be eligible for a lower-cost preferred risk flood policy. For $250,000 of residential dwelling coverage with 1,000 deductible in the preferred risk program, the premium is $1.13/day or 412/year. Flood insurance is affordable. Unlike homeowners insurance, flood insurance typically has a waiting period. The NFIP sets a standard 30-day waiting period before flood coverage goes into effect, though it’s important to discuss this with your insurance agent to understand what the exceptions to the waiting period are and whether the waiting period would apply to your specific situation.
An independent insurance agent like us at Suzanne Brown Agency LLC can help you sort out the coverage you need, what the policy will and won’t cover and can help you get it through the NFIP.