We are now four days into our favorite time of year — hurricane season! I’d like to shed some light on flood insurance, something that many of you think you may have but don’t. Others of you know you don’t have it, but you probably should.
First, if you have only one policy for your home, condominium or apartment, it is probably to cover you against fire, windstorm, theft and other covered losses, probably a homeowners policy. But it probably doesn’t cover flooding. You can probably buy a flood insurance policy from the agent you bought your other policy coverage from.
As to those of you who know you don’t have flood insurance, you should realize that everyone lives in a flood zone. Some areas are considered special flood hazard areas or high risk. If you live in such an area and have a federally backed mortgage, you must carry flood insurance.
Non-special flood hazard areas are still at risk. In fact, one out of four floods occurs in this type of area. Just an inch of water in your home can cause costly damage to your walls, flooring and furniture.
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Rain getting into your residence due to wind creating an opening is not flooding. This is probably covered by your homeowners policy. Rising ground water and water flowing along the ground is considered to be flooding. For example, heavy rain creating large amounts of standing water in an area is flooding. Hurricanes can bring walls of water 20 feet or higher.
Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest. For a $ 50,000 loan at 4 percent interest, your monthly payment would be around $240 or $2,880 a year for 30 years. Compare that with a $100,000 flood insurance premium, which is about $400 a year.
If you live in a non-special flood hazard area, you may be eligible for the preferred risk policy, with premiums as low as $119 a year.
You shouldn’t delay looking into coverage because you don’t expect to be part of a widespread disaster. In the words of Butch Kinerney, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Eligibility to collect on a claim doesn’t depend on the president flying over in a helicopter.” It takes 30 days after purchase for a policy to take effect so it’s important to buy before the flood waters start to rise.
Don’t forget your car insurance. You need to have comprehensive or other than collision coverage to insure your car against flooding.
A car can be carried away by just two feet of flood water.
Get the facts before you decide that your property is not at risk. If you are at risk, buy your flood policy now so you can have peace of mind now and later.