Sooo….What does the Louisiana Thousand Year Flood Event mean to you? Are you at Risk for a Flood?

La.Flood

So let’s look at how FEMA determines if you are “at risk”.  Flood maps, known officially as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS), show areas of high and moderate to low flood risk.  Cities and counties use the maps to set minimum building requirements for coastal areas and floodplains.  Lenders use them to determine flood insurance requirements, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses them to help determine what you pay for flood insurance.

High-risk areas are identified on the FIRMs as:

  • Zones AE, A, AH, AR, A99, or AO. These properties have at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.
  • Zones VE or V. These properties also have at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. In addition, these properties face hazards associated with coastal storm waves and storm surge.

 Insurance note: Federally regulated or insured lenders require mortgage holders to purchase flood insurance for properties in high-risk areas.   

An elevation survey of the lowest living level of your home is required in order to apply for Flood Insurance.  The surveyor will provide a Flood Certificate showing the elevation.  When buying a home, make sure to ask if a flood Certificate is available.  Flood Insurance rates are based on the Flood Zone as determined by FEMA maps and the elevation of your home.  The higher your home is above the required minimal flood elevation, the less your pay in premiums.

Moderate- to low-risk areas are identified on the FIRMs as:

  • Shaded Zone X. The risk is reduced in these areas but not eliminated.
  • Zone X. These properties are in an area of overall lower risk.

Insurance note: Lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) are often an option in these areas. Flood insurance coverage is not mandatory in these areas but is recommended, as the risk for flooding is still very real. Keep in mind that while your property could be designated as moderate to low risk, it still may be geographically close to a high-risk area

In this case you should consider purchasing a Preferred Risk Flood Policy.  Premiums are reasonable.  Typically, for $250K on your Home and $100k Contents, annual premiums are $450.  Every homeowner in Louisiana was probably eligible.  Just because your Mortgage Company did not require you to purchase Flood Insurance does not mean you do not have a Risk of flooding or that you were not eligible for Flood Insurance.

Not sure about your home or business’s true Flood Risk,                                                             call SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.  239-265-9577

We will help you assess your risk, review your present coverage and make recommendations.  Do  not take chances with your most important asset.

Find out what is covered by Flood Insurance

Hurricane Season is Here. Remember.. Flood Insurance has a 30 day waiting Period!!

Many homeowners learn the hard way (or the wet way) that their homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover property damage caused by hurricanes and floods. If you live in a potentially affected area — which could include everything from a home on the coast near a fragile levee that sees frequent floods to one downhill from a stream that hasn’t flooded in years — you probably should buy a separate flood insurance policy to cover your home and its contents.

Get Flood Insurance Coverage for Property and Contents

A flood insurance policy through the NFIP can provide maximum coverage of $250,000 for property and $100,000 for contents. (Property and contents coverage must be purchased separately, even though they may form part of the same policy.) If you want additional coverage, you can purchase excess flood insurance from private insurers. The average flood insurance policy costs less than $570 per year, according to the NFIP.

If you buy a home in a designated high-risk flood zone and get a mortgage loan from a federally regulated or insured lender, your lender must require that you purchase flood insurance.

If you live in a zone that’s been designated moderate- or low-risk, you don’t need to buy flood insurance for your lender’s sake — but you may want to do so anyway, especially if your own observations indicate that the official designation on your area are out-of-date (a common problem). According to FEMA, almost 25% of all flood insurance claims come from areas with low-to-moderate flood risk. The good news is that you’ll qualify for a preferred-risk policy. The premiums for this type of policy start at only $129 per year (for both property and contents).

Here’s what flood insurance pays out for each type of property covered:

Contents. Flood insurance pays actual cash value (not the most generous amount — it means the cost to replace                            the damaged or lost property based on its actual, depreciated value as used goods).

Property. You can opt for replacement cost coverage (the cost to replace the damaged or lost property with new property, without regard to depreciation) if you’re insuring a single-family home that is your primary residence. Available coverage is at least 80% of the full replacement cost of the building (an amount that’s set in advance for your property) or the maximum available under the NFIP.

Know What Flood Insurance Doesn’t Cover

A good flood insurance policy can be a financial lifeboat following a destructive event such as a hurricane. But flood insurance doesn’t cover everything. Before buying, you should know about the following key restrictions and limitations, which are specific to flood insurance

Swimming Pools and Landscaping Aren’t Covered

If something goes wrong with a swimming pool on your property and this causes your home to sustain flood damage, your flood insurance policy won’t apply. Also, don’t expect any reimbursement for flood damage to flower beds, vegetable gardens, trees, or other landscaping on your property.

Water Must Have Come From Outside Your Home 

If something breaks or malfunctions inside your home — for instance, pipes freeze and burst or a toilet overflows — and this leads to flooding, your flood insurance policy won’t apply. However, your homeowners’ policy should cover these types of losses. Ask your agent or broker to give you the lowdown.   

Small Floods Don’t Count Living Expenses or Business Interruption Aren’t Covered

To be considered a flood, the water that causes damage must have covered at least two acres or have affected at least one other property. Also, if your home sustains any mold or mildew damage that you could have prevented from occurring, your policy won’t cover such damage.

Your flood insurance policy won’t pay you for any living expenses you may incur (such as renting a hotel room until your property is fixed). Also, you won’t recover any financial losses caused by business interruption (if you operated a business out of your home) or any other loss of your home’s use.

Money and Important Papers Aren’t Covered

Your policy won’t pay for the value of any currency, precious metals, stock certificates, and other valuable papers that get destroyed in a flood.

Improvements and Most Contents in Below-Ground Areas Aren’t Covered 

Your flood insurance policy won’t cover any improvements you’ve made to your basement, such as finished walls or floors. Also, almost all personal property (including clothing, computers and electronic equipment, kitchen and office supplies, and furniture) located in basements or other areas of your home below the lowest elevated floor aren’t covered.

If You Want Coverage, Act Now

Unlike other types of insurance, flood insurance coverage doesn’t kick in on day one. With few exceptions, you must wait 30 days after you first purchase a flood insurance policy before your policy will take effect. So the longer you delay looking for coverage for your home, the greater your risk of suffering a loss before your policy is actually in place.  The only time this waiting period does not apply is when a lender or mortgage company is involved.  Check with your agent closely when you have a real estate closing and flood insurance is required by the lender.

Even if the next hurricane season is months away, you could still benefit from getting a flood insurance policy sooner. In addition to damage from hurricanes, a flood insurance policy will also protect you from losses from other causes, such as heavy or prolonged rainstorms, coastal storm surges, snow melt, clogged storm drainage systems, levee dam failures, and mudslides.

*From an Article written by Ron Leshnower on NOLO.com