Flooding got your attention? Don’t watch, take action with flood insurance
Remember when your mother forced you to take a spoonful of medicine because it was good for you? Flood insurance is good for you, and Mother Nature (and her daughter Hurricane Irene) just spooned out a dose that should motivate some people to take the medicine and protect their property by purchasing this important coverage. Most standard homeowners and business insurance policies do not cover flood damage.
Images of flooded homes in the Northeast are all the motivation some people need to consider buying a flood insurance policy. But too few people do. A 2011 poll by the Insurance Information Institute showed that only 14 percent of homeowners in the U.S. had flood policies. Floridians have more flood policies than any other state, but we don’t hang onto them for very long. Why? Two reasons come to mind: First, no one forces you to buy flood coverage, other than your mortgage company if you live in a high-risk flood zone. And, some people buy a flood policy and after a couple of years when “the creek don’t rise”, they think they wasted money and decide not to renew it.
A study on how long homeowners keep flood insurance coverage showed the average length of time was 2 to 4 years nationally, and less than that in Florida. Halfway through this year, as of June 30, the federal government declared 28 major flood disasters, compared to 50 federally-declared major flood disasters in all of 2010. Add Hurricane Irene flooding, and three more months of rainy season, and that number is growing.
People underestimate the risk of flooding, and they also underestimate its destructive power. A few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Check out the interactive tool on the cost of flooding. There is a lot of information available at www.FloodSmart.gov, including a resource to give you an idea on the price of a flood policy.
A New York Times article about the July floods in South Dakota had a headline that seems to point out the unfortunate disconnect between risk and our perception of it — “In a Flood Zone, but Astonished by High Water”. Umm. You’re in a flood, and you’re surprised. Think about how surprised you’ll be if a flood happens in a low-risk zone, which is where 20 percent of flood claims payments go