Many people tend to think they don’t need flood insurance unless they live on a river, lake, or a coastal area. The recent severe flooding from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma should prove that our property can be at risk even if typically high and dry and nowhere near water.
Did you know that floods are the #1 cause of natural disasters in the United States? Yes, it’s not hurricanes even though they often contribute heavily to the actual flooding. Consider the following things that floods can come from:
- Hurricanes and wind driven rain, especially near rivers, lakes, and coastal areas.
- Persistent heavy rain for long periods of time. All you have to do to appreciate this is consider Hurricane Harvey which sat over Texas for days and dumped over 4’ of water in areas like Houston causing massive damage, devastations, and disruption of people’s lives. Houston is not on the coast and is not considered a low lying area.
- Thawing of heavy snowfalls in the spring can cause massive flooding.
- New development changing how water flows in your neighborhood.
- Pipes getting jammed with debris and not flowing properly can cause flooding.
What is flooding?
While a pipe may break in your house and dump water all over the place, that is not the technical definition of flooding. Flooding is defined very simply as rising water caused by outside water sources that usually covers at least 2 acres.
For many years, the federal government has published flood maps that differentiated property into either “low-risk” zones (classified as B,C, or X) or “higher risk” zones such as A or V. People believed that if they were not in a “higher-risk” zone like A or V that they didn’t need flood insurance. Did you know that 25% of all flood claims come from “lower-risk” zones? I believe that figure will go higher after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as many, many places flooded that were not in a “higher-risk” zone.
For whatever reason, more storm activity, changing weather patterns, only the good Lord knows, we seem to be having more persistent and heavy storms and rains that dump massive amounts of water in areas that have traditionally been thought to be safe from flooding. I don’t want to be an alarmist but do know the best way to protect yourself is to purchase a flood policy. Remember that your homeowners insurance policy does not include flood coverage!
If you live in a higher risk zone, it can get pricey and it may get worse. If you live in a lower risk, or preferred area, you can purchase $20,000 of building coverage and $8,000 of contents coverages for as little as $133/year. That is the best insurance deal I know of anywhere. I’ve already been reading talk of how the entire FEMA program and flood rates and maps may change after the recent disasters so the way to protect yourself as cheaply as possible is to act NOW!
Why You Need Flood Insurance
Also, did you know that there is a 30 day wait before coverage starts on most flood policies? When thousands of people were calling their agents prior to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wanting flood insurance, it was too late. The government wants us to pay some premiums for our coverage before we file a claim. A few exceptions to this exist such as when someone is buying a house where the property is in a higher risk flood zone and the lender requires flood insurance but this is the exception, not the rule.
When you ask some people if they plan on buying flood insurance, they reply “No, I will just file a claim with FEMA.”
Let me give some reasons why this might not be the wisest move:
- Before you can get FEMA assistance, an area has to be declared a Federal Disaster area by the government. So if your area flooded, and was not declared a Federal Disaster area, you would be out of luck. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were huge storms that we knew were coming but what if a small system just camped over your town or house and dumped a lot of rain but the Federal government refused to declare it a Federal Disaster area?
- FEMA was $25 Billion in debt before Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Do you suppose it’s possible they’ll run out of money or not be able to pay for full recovery?
- Most federal disaster assistance comes in the form of low-interest disaster loans from U.S. Small Business Administration. So you may get help, but you’ll be paying them back.
- FEMA offers disaster grants to cover temporary housing, rent, etc. but this amount is almost always insufficient to rebuild your house or cover your full recovery costs.
Did you know that only 1 inch of water in your house can cause $20,000 of damage? Please visit www.floodsmart.gov to see some helpful videos that explain how damaging water is, how you can assess the potential damage to your house, and how to be better prepared next time.
If you have any questions about flood insurance, please give us a call and we’ll do our best to help you decide what to do or help you set up a flood policy.