Weathering hurricane season: Insure your home now
Hurricane season isn’t over and it isn’t too late to take steps to financially insure your home against flooding. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an extremely active season with a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms, of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes, including 3 to 6 major hurricanes.
You don’t have to live right on the coast to face significant loss from hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricanes can produce severe flooding on the coast and inland. Some of the most damaging and dangerous floods occur when the remnants of a hurricane or tropical storm system travel inland, producing above average rainfall hundreds of miles from the coast.
Preparing before the storm is critical. Homeowners insurance does not usually cover flood damage – only flood insurance can ensure your financial protection against the devastating effects of flooding. Also, there typically is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect. If you wait for the storm to form, it will probably be too late.
“If we didn’t have flood insurance, I would be homeless,” says Bertie Midgett, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Irene.
If you’re not sure if you need flood insurance, here are some things to consider:
• Maintaining flood insurance coverage can make for a faster, more cost-effective flood recovery compared to relying on federal disaster assistance which usually comes in the form of a loan that must be paid back with interest. For example, a $50,000 loan at four percent interest requires a monthly payment of about $240 a month ($2,880 a year) for 30 years. The average flood insurance premium of $640 per year covers up to $250,000 in building coverage and $100,000 in contents coverage.
• Just a couple inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars. Learn how much a flood in your home could cost you by using the interactive Cost of Flooding Tool on FloodSmart.gov/dontwait. You can also listen to home and business owners share their personal stories and why they’re glad they had flood insurance or why they wish they had purchased a policy.
• Anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, those outside of Special Flood Hazard high-risk areas file more than 20 percent of National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding. And just because you’ve never experienced a flood before does not mean you won’t experience one in the future. Factors such as new land development can increase your flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural drainage patterns.
• Flood insurance is sold by insurance agents and backed by the federal government. Rates are set and do not differ from company to company or agent to agent. Visit FloodSmart.gov/dontwait or call 888-226-9499 to locate an agent serving your area.
Don’t get caught off guard. Take steps now to financially protect yourself from a flood.
During hurricane season, don’t get caught off guard. Take steps now to financially protect yourself from a flood.