Did you see Houston, Texas, and its surroundings were inundated with floodwaters from heavy storms. The area was declared a federal disaster by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), enabling residents to apply for certain disaster assistance programs, and to automatically qualify for IRS tax extensions until September 1.
The storms remind us that it can be a good idea to have flood
insurance, even if you don't live in a recognized flood zone. Floods can
take place at any time and in unexpected places, according to the National Flood Insurance Program, through FEMA.
Chief executive Keith Brown, of National Flood
Services, a provider of flood insurance policies, agrees. "People
think, 'I’m not by a river or stream, so I don't need it,'" he says.
"But flooding can be caused by other things such as high snowpack,
overdevelopment, or a storm drain backing up in a cul-de-sac."
Flooding, especially in basements, is more likely to happen in newly developed areas,
where new roads reduce water absorption into the soil. Even if such an
area is typically dry, an unexpected downpour could damage basements and
parked cars (covered by the comprehensive).
Not surprisingly nearly 20 percent of flood claims originate in locations deemed "moderate" or "low" risk, according to the National Flood Insurance Program. A third of disaster-assistance requests from flooding comes from such areas, says Brown.
Flood insurance is the only coverage that will indemnify you for
damage due to groundwater seepage and mudslides. If a neighbor's
above-ground swimming pool collapses and the water flows into your home,
flood insurance will cover the cost of the damage. Similarly, if a
water main breaks and damages your home and at least one other home in
your neighborhood, flood insurance comes to the rescue. Traditional
How to Buy Flood Insurance
In many parts of the country, this is the
time to buy flood insurance. Once you purchase it, there is a 30-day
waiting period before the policy is activated. Such a policy could be
helpful to you once hurricane season starts on June 1.
You can purchase federal flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.
The insurance policies are backed by the federal government, which
sells it directly, and through 80 private insurance companies throughout
the country. Check with an agent who sells homeowners coverage for
Federal flood insurance coverage is capped at $250,000 per dwelling
and $100,000 for contents, though you can purchase policies with lower
limits. There are eligibility requirements, however, and numerous
exclusions. For example, the boiler, water heater, and other essential
systems in your basement are covered, but nonessentials, such as a TV, an audio system, and furniture kept in the basement are not covered.
People who live in low- and moderate-risk areas and buy federal flood
insurance pay standard premiums set by FEMA. Those rates are the same
regardless of where you buy your coverage.
To get an assessment of the risk that you will be a victim of a flood
as well as an estimate of your annual premium and a link to area agents
who sell federal flood insurance, visit FloodSmart.gov
and plug in your property address. The average premium to insure a home
that's a moderate-to-low risk property is $420, FEMA says.
You also can use FreeFlood.com, a commercial site, to see your property on a flood map and get detailed estimates of premiums.
If you're in a high-risk area, your premium is likely to be tailored
to your property. Susan Hendrick, a FEMA spokesperson, says there are
many variables that go into the pricing, including the age and
construction of the home, its proximity to water, the elevation of the
house as well as the home's value.
Private Flood Insurance
Increasingly, private insurers are
offering flood coverage. The policies either supplement federal flood
insurance by providing higher coverage limits, or replace it as the
homeowner's primary flood policy. A few insurance carriers provide it as
an optional rider on their homeowners coverage.
Depending on your situation, you may find private flood insurance has
lower premiums than the federal version. Or, it may require fewer
add-on costs. For example, in about 20 percent of cases, the government
will require that a professional come to the home to draft an "elevation
certificate" to determine the insurance rate. The homeowner pays that
In addition, private coverage may cover your living expenses if you
have to relocate while your home is being cleaned up after a flood.
That's something federal flood insurance won't provide. Insurance Plus Agencies offer these alternative flood coverage.
See: Bill Quickel's - Insurance Plus Agencies Inc. 114 Court St. Pomeroy, Ohio 45769 (740) 992-6677 or EMAIL US