As they say in the South, “We are right in the middle of hurricane season,” although the good news is that there are only about a few months left.
When we think of hurricanes, we think of wind damage with flying debris, shattered windows and torn roofs. These are all serious damage that can cost you dearly. But, what so many homeowners don’t realize is that flooding is also a very serious outcome and regular home insurance just doesn’t cover it.
During a hurricane, some – and sometimes all – of the damage is not caused by the wind, but rather by storm surges and flooding. Floods are an ugly business and again home insurance doesn’t cover them. I cannot stress this enough.
If you are in eastern North Carolina but don’t live on the coast, you might be thinking, “I don’t live near the beach, so I don’t have to worry. floods “. North Carolina has a tremendous amount of shoreline stretching far into our state.
You might not have a beach house in Topsail, but if you live near a river or a strait, you can still have flooding. In fact, you can have flooding without living near water. If you live where it rains? You can have a flood disaster. Every structure in North Carolina is prone to flooding under the right conditions and that includes your home or apartment.
The federal government has mapped most areas of the United States and classified them as flood zones. Some areas are expected to be infrequently flooded, while coastal and lowland areas are considered to be prone to flooding. If you live in a flood-prone area, your lender has likely required you to purchase flood insurance. In this case, I say “Good for you, you’ve got you covered!” “
But, if you live far from a body of water, or if you are on higher ground, you may be in one of these “rare flood zones”. You are then probably thinking “I don’t need flood insurance”, so I will go back to what I said earlier, if it rains where you live you may suffer a flood loss. .
Losses from flooding can be devastating, not just from the point of view of being underwater. It’s what happens during the flood that is so nasty. Water brings dirt. It brings in debris and bacteria. Without proper and immediate cleaning, it also results in mold and other contaminants. And don’t forget that when the ground gets flooded, a lot of critters that you don’t necessarily want in your home may very well end up there anyway.
Next, you will need to tear off and replace the drywall, cabinetry, and other construction items. These aren’t bills you want to have to pay because they can be sky-high.
Most importantly, remember this: During Hurricane Katrina, many homes were not only damaged by flooding, they were smashed and torn from their foundations. There were no homes at all and many of them did not have flood insurance.
Others, who owned million dollar homes, only had basic minimum limits of flood insurance coverage and ended up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in uninsured losses.
I know – I’m still pessimistic. Hey, that’s what risk managers do: we worry about the worst so we can plan for it. We make sure that when bad things happen, there is a plan to survive.
When it comes to your flood risk, the easiest survival plan is to contact your insurance agent and ask them to purchase flood insurance for you. The majority of flood insurance is provided through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Most insurance agents can sell you coverage almost immediately.
If you’re not in a flood zone, it costs around $ 500 per year, but it can certainly vary depending on your home’s value, location, and other factors. If you are in a flood zone, you are probably looking for around $ 1,000 for flood insurance, maybe more. I base these numbers on recent quotes.
So call your insurance agent and get a quote on flood insurance. I think you’ll find it surprisingly affordable, especially for the peace of mind it gives you.
Brenda Wells is Robert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University, as well as Director of the Risk Management and Insurance Program at ECU. For more information on the program or the content of this article, contact her at [email protected] or 252-481-2777.