My short answer is, it can’t hurt. In recent years, we are seeing more property damage from flood waters. Hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30. Each year, millions are in the path of storms that can materialize into a non weather event to one resulting in dire aftermaths. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left massive devastation in the United States and the Caribbean within two weeks. It’s estimated that damage from these two hurricanes will exceed hundreds of billion of dollars. We’ve all seen the images of rising waters but beyond those images are real families and communities who are left to rebuild their lives. But where do they start?
A homeowners insurance policy covers damage caused by fire, winds, hail, lightening and vandalism. The policy will not cover earthquake and flood. While some areas are more flood prone than others, in recent years we’ve seen damage in some unexpected areas. Flood damage does not only come by way of a hurricane. It can result from heavy rains or a levy breach. One inch of water can leave a repair cost of more than $11,000.
Before getting flood insurance, there are a few things you should think about:
- Ask about it. Coverage is not automatic. Your insurance agent will purchase it through National Flood Insurance Program, a program run by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- What’s covered. The policy covers the structure of the home and its contents. Furnaces, water heaters, appliances, electrical and plumbing systems fall under the coverage. Be aware of the deductibles and limits for each category.
- What’s not covered. Temporary living expenses while repairs are under way are not covered. Personal property like clothing furniture and electronic equipment in a basement or crawl space are not covered.
- Is it required. If you have a mortgage and your home is in a high risk zone, your lender will likely require a flood policy. However if you live in a moderate or low flood zone, the policy is optional.
- Cost. The average yearly cost of a flood coverage is $700. Premiums may be higher in high risk zone and significantly lower in moderate to low risk.
- When can I get it. You can get the policy at anytime but there is generally a 30 day wait period before it becomes effective.
As with other insurance policies, when considering coverage it’s important to understand what’s being insured, your family’s needs and your budget. Insurance is the one thing we purchase but hope to never use. But when used, it can help make a difficult situation more bearable. The flip side is not having the insurance and having to figure out how to be made whole or as close to that as possible.
I did not have flood insurance during Super Storm Sandy. My home was hit by that unprecedented northeast storm, leaving almost seven feet of water in my basement. My car was parked in the driveway and had water up to the seats. That car was a SUV! Fast forward, I am now one that says having coverage for flooding is simply part of insuring a home. These days, living in a moderate to low risk zone does not make a family immune from being a victim of the storm of the century. I’m not entirely sure how that works but in the last several years, we’ve had our fair share of storms of the century.