Hurricanes Can Cause Flooding Not Covered by Homeowner Policies
It is that time of year again -- residents in the Low Country are aware that Hurricane Season is officially here and by August, we will all be glued to the Weather Channel and to our local forecasts to see what is happening in the tropics. The official NOAA outlook calls for 12-15 tropical storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, and 3-5 of these becoming major hurricanes. Oh Joy!! Having lived in the Charleston area for almost 20 years, my husband and I went through Hurricane Hugo, complete with having to tear down a home and build a new one. It was an ordeal that gave me a healthy respect for Hurricanes. We were very lucky to have had a good insurance agent that sat down with us BEFORE hurricane season to review our Insurance Policies.
Now that I am an insurance agent, I can give some qualified suggestions to anyone living in the Low Country -- I highly recommend calling your agent to review your coverage on Flood and Wind damage at least 1 month before the season kicks into full-gear. If there is a named storm out there, most insurers are restricted from writing new insurance policies and are limited about what changes can be made to a policy. The first thing to be aware of is that damage caused by flooding/rising water is not covered under Homeowner policies. A separate Flood Insurance Policy must be issued in order to protect one¡¦s home against flood damage.
Our policyholders ask me many questions: ¡§Why do I need flood insurance?¡¨
Or, ¡§I lived in this house during Hurricane Hugo and the house was not flooded then. I know I don¡¦t need flood insurance if Hugo didn¡¦t get us!¡¨
Or, ¡§Our home wasn¡¦t in a flood zone before, when did that change and why?¡¨
These facts my help answer those and other questions::
„« All of Charleston County is in a Flood Plain. If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area, Zones V and AE, your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance. If you are in an X, B or C-zone, lenders do not require flood insurance; however policies are available and are reasonably priced.
„« In our area, hurricanes and heavy rains (flash flooding) are the most common reasons for flooding.
„« New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths. It is primarily for this reason that many areas in the Lowcountry are being remapped by FEMA.
„« Your Insurance Agent can write a policy for you at a federally set premium. All claims and expenses of the NFIP, National Flood Insurance Program, are funded by insurance premiums, not tax dollars.
„« Floods can occur almost anywhere. You don¡¦t need to be near water to be flooded. Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to your property. 25% - 30% of all Flood claims are paid in low and moderate risk zones. You do not need to be in a high-risk flood zone to buy flood insurance.
„« Flood Insurance compensates for all covered losses even if federal disaster aid is unavailable
„« The Federal government backs NFIP flood insurance to guarantee compensation.
„« Claims are quickly paid, usually within 30 to 60 days.
Remember that it takes 30 days after purchase for a flood policy to take effect, so it¡¦s important to buy insurance before the floodwaters start to rise. It is not too soon to call your Insurance Agent for a Policy Review. The time to plan is now!