Flood Damage Risks
Nearly every property faces some level of risk from flooding. In areas of the U.S. where flooding is not a large concern, flood insurance is often not required for homeowners or businesses. However, homeowners and businesses may still choose to purchase it at their discretion.
It’s wise to know the level of risk associated with your property. Flood risks can change over time. Although an area may not have had a flood risk when you purchased the property, it may now be listed as a flood risk area. Whether you’re planning to buy a new property or you’re occupying an existing property, check the flood maps for your area.
Flood maps are available for most communities in the U.S. They help you understand the level of risk your property faces in the event of heavy rainfall while showing the likelihood of flooding in your area. These maps are updated in an ongoing process to keep the risks current to the changing situations around the country.
Damage from flooding can be catastrophic. Without flood insurance, homeowners have limited options for relief from flood damage. If an area is declared a disaster area, certain relief loans may be offered to homeowners at low or no interest, but these are loans that need to be repaid. In most cases, homeowners and business owners with no flood insurance have no way to recoup losses following flood damage to the home or valuables.
Understanding Flood Insurance
Flood insurance is usually purchased separately from homeowners insurance or renters insurance. To get insured against flood damage, you need a policy that specifically covers flooding.
The U.S. federal government provides many of the flood insurance policies in the country through private insurers. These policies are supported by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Coverages from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are:
- For homeowners, coverage limits are $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for the building contents. These are typically purchased separately with separate deductibles.
- For business owners, coverage limits are $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for the building contents. These are typically purchased separately with separate deductibles.
- For renters, the coverage limit is $100,000 for contents-only coverage.
For a list of what is covered, see: What flood insurance covers.
Automobiles are generally not included in home flood insurance policies. Instead, flood damage is part of some auto insurance plans. In areas where flooding is a risk, it’s wise to seek an auto insurance policy that includes protection against flood-related damages.
How to Buy Flood Insurance
Flood insurance policies can be purchased through most private insurance providers. Look specifically for National Flood Insurance Program policies, since these are the government-sponsored plans. Don’t wait until flooding is predicted, because flood insurance plans have a 30-day waiting period before becoming active.
Private insurers may also offer flood insurance for homes and commercial buildings. Before purchasing a policy, ensure that the coverage offered is enough for your structure of the contents of your home or building.
Protecting Your Family from Flooding
The best way to stay safe during a flood is to prepare ahead of time. Once a flood begins, quick action is needed to reduce the risk of harm or damage. Take precautions to be ready, including:
- Planning Flood Evacuations: Before any flooding occurs, you and your family should create a plan about what to do in the event of a flood. Plan the evacuation of your family members and pets, learn how to shut off all home utilities, and make a plan for what to do if the family gets separated during an evacuation.
- Itemizing Valuables in the Home: Flood insurance policies may require a list of your most expensive valuables on the policy. If not, you may have to provide a list of the valuables damaged by the flood. Make an itemized list that includes the valuable items in your home. This allows you to know what to claim in the event of flood damage.
- Keeping Emergency Provisions: FEMA recommends that every family have an emergency kit filled with necessities, including water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, and other essentials. This kit should be stored in a location that is easily accessible in case of an emergency.
- Fortifying Your Home: If any specific areas of your home or yard are at risk of flooding, fortification is a useful step before flooding occurs. This may include installing backwater prevention valves or keeping necessary materials on hand to block water flow through doorways.
- Understanding Your Flood Insurance Coverage: Standard homeowner’s insurance policies don’t include flood insurance. Flood insurance policies are purchased separately, and they often have a waiting period before they become active. Read and understand your flood insurance policy to be aware of your coverage, limitations, and responsibilities. Always ensure you have the right policy to cover your home and valuables.
Flood Watches and Warnings
One step toward protecting yourself and your family from flooding is understanding the warnings given out by weather authorities. There are 4 specific types of warnings to recognize, namely:
- Flood Watch: This is the first stage of flood alerts. A flood watch is issued when there is rain heavy enough to cause overflow from local waterways.
- Flash Flood Watch: A flash flood watch is similar to a flood watch in that it occurs when heavy rain is expected to cause the overflow of waterways. This type of warning usually accompanies sudden, strong rains.
- Flood Warning: Flood warnings are issued when flooding is beginning or expected to begin in specific areas. These alerts describe the expected severity of flooding and the locations at risk.
- Flash Flood Warning: When a flash flood warning is issued, it means that sudden flooding is occurring in an area.
Knowing these alerts allows you to respond appropriately when they are issued. If a flash flood warning is issued, immediately move to high ground.
ABC Dennis Insurance
Besides flood insurance, we can help with all your insurance needs. As an independent agency, we find the best insurance coverage with the most competitive rates. So, we shop multiple insurance carriers to find the coverage that best fits our customers’ every need.