Every few years, there is an event that makes me consider whether our home should be covered by flood insurance. I doubt that we will soon forget the images from Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast just a few years ago. Or the areas of Nashville that were damaged or destroyed by flood waters after a few days of non-stop rain in middle Tennessee in May 2010.
A few months after the Nashville flood, I had the opportunity to drive through one of the neighborhoods that had been under water due to the rise of the nearby Harpeth River. What I recall about the visit is that the source of the flood waters was not very obvious. While the homes that were flooded were in the vicinity of the Harpeth, they didn’t seem to me to be very close to the river. The Nashville flooding is believed to be a once-in-a-century occurrence. However, along with a number of other events, it proved that flooding is possible, even where it may not seem probable.
Homeowners that live in areas designated as a flood zone by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) may be familiar with flood insurance options. These flood zones are most often in coastal areas, near a moving body of water, or in a low-lying area. Homeowners in flood zones are typically required to buy a flood policy if a mortgage is obtained for their property. A separate flood insurance policy is necessary, as a homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage. Keep in mind, the home policy distinguishes between a flood and a plumbing leak in your home.
For consumers, the best place for information on flood insurance is Floodsmart.gov, the official site of the NFIP. This website includes an abundance of information including a one-step flood risk profile, Frequently Asked Questions, an Agent Locator, and many “Flood Facts” including the following:
- All it takes is a few inches of water to cause major damage to your home and its contents.
- Floods are the #1 natural disaster in the Unites States according to the NFIP.
- People outside of mapped, high-risk flood areas file nearly 25 percent of all NFIP claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding.
- When it’s available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest.
- Coverage is available for as low as $129 per year for both a minimum amount of building and contents coverage in lower risk areas.
There is an important piece of information to be aware of if you are considering flood insurance. Unless you are closing on a home loan, there is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to begin after you purchase a policy. This isn’t a policy one can purchase when flooding is imminent.
Your trusted independent insurance agent has access to the NFIP’s agent site. To determine your coverage needs, or the cost for a policy covering your property, please contact your agent.
The coverages described above are in the most general terms and are subject to the actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions, and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact your independent insurance agent.