Should I Get Flood Insurance?

Any area of the United States can, at any time, become a flood zone.

With climactic shifts and atypical weather patterns popping up all of the country, this is now more true than ever. The Midwest has certainly seen its fair share of heavy downpours and flash flooding. Heavy rains can carve out new river systems in your backyard. Storms on top of already saturated land can cause instant flooding. Dams and levees that have stood unwavering for decades can cave. When you’re asking yourself the question, “Should I purchase flood insurance,” just remember that it can happen anywhere.

Even a few inches of water in your home or business can cause tens of thousands of dollars in flood damage and displace your family or staff. A quarter of all flood claims come from low- or moderate-risk flood areas, zones that are not required to have insurance by lenders or the Federal Government. No matter where you live, you’re eligible to purchase some level of flood insurance. Protecting your property and everything in it can be relatively affordable as well. The key difference in price (and sometimes ease of attaining a policy) is whether you live in a high-risk or low-risk flood zone. Flood insurance is mandatory for residents in high-risk areas, but otherwise is an optional addition to your policy. Do you know the flood risk where you live?  According to Norm Ashford, FEMA’s flood insurance specialist, flooding is the “greatest single cause of property loss,” 26 times greater than that of fire destruction. So no matter whether high- or low-risk, not having flood insurance could be your greatest risk of all.

Know your coverage.

Know what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers and ask questions of your insurance provider if you’re unclear on any protection. It’s important to note that flood damage is not covered under the standard homeowner’s policy. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), operated by FEMA, works in cooperation with local communities and private insurance companies to offer flood insurance coverage. While coverage may be obtained, it’s very important that you’re clear on specific clauses and coverage of the NFIP policy.

The NFIP protects against the rapid buildup or accumulation or runoff of surface water on land that’s typically dry area. The reference of “surface water” is important, as NFIP covers flooding on the surface of the land (such as heavy rains), but its policy does not protect against ground saturation from sources that may seep into your home, such as a sewer backup. Also important to know about the NFIP policy is that it does not provide full-replacement coverage. Contents coverage much be purchased separately. Renters may purchase contents coverage to protect their belongings in the event of flood damage.

You must live in a community that participates in the NFIP in order to be eligible for flood insurance. Your community in turn must implement regulations to manage floodplain areas and mitigate loss. To check if your recommunity participates in the NFIP, check its Community Status Book. If your community doesn’t participate in the NFIP, you may also be eligible to buy flood coverage from a private insurer.

What’s it going to cost?

As a homeowner, you can insure your property for up to $250,000 and the contents within it for up to $100,000. Renters may cover belongings up to $100,000. Business owners can cover building and contents for up to $500,000.

Under the NFIP, prices are predetermined for coverage on structure and contents. Choices and prices will vary depending on flood risk. The average annual cost of a flood insurance policy is $570. Low- to moderate-risk areas may provide policies for as low as $129/year. Renters in the same area can protect their belongings for as low as $49/annually for contents-only coverage.

Generally there’s a 30-day waiting period before the flood coverage takes effect, so making a rush call to your agency once you’ve seen a daunting weather report won’t help your situation. Do your homework, weigh your odds, and prepare yourself ahead of time.

Regardless of where you live, all homeowners should at least know the flood risks of their communities and obtain a quote so that you can make an informed decision.

Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946, and is located in St. Louis, Missouri. With more than 65 years of experience, Woodard is proud to serve as a preferred provider of water, fire, and smoke restoration services for residential, commercial, and institutional facilities. For more information, visit our contact page, or call 314-266-0373.