Hopefully you will never experience a flood or ever have a need for flood insurance. However, with images of the affects of Hurricane Harvey splashed upon everyone’s tv, I would be remiss to not put together a guide on homeowner flood insurance. Insurance is the one thing that you don’t need until you need it and then you need it. Here’s a brief primer on flood insurance.
What is Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance protects your home and possessions from an aerial flood (i.e. tropical storm, rivers overflowing, hurricane, etc). For most homeowners in the Charlotte area, flood insurance is NOT required because your property is not in a flood plain. However, with the frequency of 100-year storms happening annually (think Matthew in eastern NC or the floods around Columbia last year), the potential for your home to be at risk for a flood is higher than it being burned to the ground or burglarized. According to FEMA, floods are the most common natural disaster impacting residents in every state.
It’s Optional For Most Property Owners.
If you are the victim of a flood and you don’t not have flood insurance, you could be completely out of luck. Federal and State disaster declarations may unlock funds for the National Flood Insurance Program however that program is set to expire at the end of September 2017.
Who is Required to Have Flood Insurance?
If you visit Mecklenburg County’s Polaris site or the Storm Water 3D Flood Zone Map, you can see how close your property is to a FEMA flood plain. These maps change so occasionally, properties that were not in a flood plain can find themselves in one in an updated map.
If you live near a greenway, you’re likely near a flood plain. In Mecklenburg county, the greenways are being created to help with flooding by becoming an area for flood waters to go.
Homeowners with properties in a flood plain can obtain a elevation certificate to show what portion of any structures are in a the flood plain. Some are available online but if you find yourself now in a flood plain, it may be wise to order a elevation certificate. The elevation certificate can be used to lower the cost of flood insurance. For example, homes were the lot is in a flood plain but the house is raised typically pay a lesser amount in flood insurance than their counterparts.
Should You Have Flood Insurance If Not Required?
Like I mentioned earlier, insurance isn’t something you need until you need it and then you need it. The added cost of flood insurance each month may be frivolous however the day that it’s needed, you will be glad that you purchased it. Also, keep in mind that the vast majority of insurers will require that you maintain a flood policy for at least 30 days before they will consider a claim. Therefore, if you purchase a policy today with the impending tropical storm this weekend, it’s too late.
Will the Government Help Me?
Yes, in the case of a declared natural disaster, the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will step in. However, it’s not automatic, it requires the federal government to fund it, and it’s set to expire on Sept 30, 2017. Considering the aid that wasn’t given to some Sandy victims, I wouldn’t want to risk it.
Where Do You Get Flood Insurance?
Your insurance provider can add flood insurance to your policy. In some locations and states, the state will have a pool insurance if insurers are refusing to insure in your area. Call your insurance professional and they can guide you.
How to Prepare for a Claim?
The time to prepare for an insurance claim is well in advance of when you need to file a claim. You will need to create an inventory to file your claim. To assist in creating your inventory, start by making a video of the contents of your home using your cell phone camera. Be as detailed as possible. When possible, take pictures of serial and model numbers. Then, take this info, create a folder on a cloud drive service like Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox and then backup your info. That way, you can access this info from any device anywhere. Your preparation will pay dividends should you ever need to file a claim.
To learn more, visit the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program site. If you have tips, add them in the comments below.