Recently the tragedy of floods fell upon the residents of several communities in Georgia. At least 8 people lost their lives and thousands lost their homes and or cars. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that 33% of U.S. homeowners wrongly believe that flood damage is covered by a standard homeowners policy.
Should you protect yourself and your home with flood insurance? For our purpose we must first be clear on what constitutes a flood vs. water damage.
Flooding is defined as 2 or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties that are inundated by water or mudslides. In other words, when your pipes break and fill your basement, flood insurance will not cover you, your standard homeowners or renters policy may be used in this case.
Since flooding is not covered by standard insurance policies the Federal Government set up the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with nearly 90 insurance company partners and participating communities. Click on this link to learn if your community participates in the NFIP.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the flood insurance policies start as low as $119 per year. If you live in a flood plain or an area with greater risk of flooding this may be money well spent. The average claim over the past 10 years was over $33,000.
Your flood insurance rates are determined by several factors including the date and type of construction of your home as well as your homes level of risk which is based on its specific location. To find your risk level you can pull up a copy of a Flood Map from FEMA for your neighborhood. Simply type in your address and then review the map to see what code has been applied to your area.
- High Risk (Code A or V) have a 1% annual chance of flooding or a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30 year loan. Your lender will require flood insurance.
- Medium Risk (Codes B,C or X) will have less than a 1% annual chance of flooding. Insurance is not required but available.
- Undetermined Risk (Code D) have not been tested. The risk of flooding still exists but no flood risk analysis has been conducted.
Are you prepared for the potential of a flood? Where would you go and what would you do? (The following has been provided by FEMA)
If a flood is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or television for information.
- Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
- Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:
- Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
- Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
- A foot of water will float many vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups