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El Nino and Flood Insurance

The heavy rains in some areas of Northern California in early November have meant panic among many clients. They live near water – mostly within a mile or so of creeks and a few near rivers. Our agency has received a lot of emails and phone calls from clients asking to buy flood policies — […]



The heavy rains in some areas of Northern California in early November have meant panic among many clients. They live near water – mostly within a mile or so of creeks and a few near rivers.

Our agency has received a lot of emails and phone calls from clients asking to buy flood policies — they know El Niño is coming and creeks and rivers that don’t typically fill up are going to and overflow their banks. Their homes are just far enough outside a high risk flood zone that their lender doesn’t make flood insurance mandatory. We have told them for years that much flooding occurred in past El Niño winters and just because homes aren’t “supposed” to flood, doesn’t mean they won’t. The water isn’t going to stop when it reaches a different flood zone – it keeps going.

So why the panic, why not just sell them a policy and lessen their fears, right? The reason for the panic is that our clients are surprised to learn that, even though they are buying a policy now, it won’t begin until December. We complete an application and collect their credit card number for the $450 for a preferred flood policy, but sit and wait for the mandatory 30 day waiting period to expire.

The clients ask us repeatedly if there is anything we can do because November is predicted to be very wet and our answer is no, we can’t…FEMA sets the rules. Of course, the clients are still buying the flood policies, but are worried about the next rainstorm and if it will be too much too fast to cause flooding.

So, if you live near a creek, river, lake or have a home with slope to the rear, side or front and water runs toward the foundation of the home – especially if you’ve had drainage issues before in rainstorms – contact your insurance agent ASAP and spend $450 on a policy. You’ll have piece of mind that, if this winter turns out to be the nightmare it’s predicted to be, that your home will be repaired if damaged by rising water. It’s the “pay now or pay later” school of thought – you can likely easily afford $450 but not $10,000 or more that will be needed to start cleaning up and repairing water damage. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage from rising water.

 

Here are some FEMA flood insurance facts:

  • Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. From 2010 to 2014 the average residential flood claim amounted to more than $39,000. In 2014, the average flood insurance policy premium was about $700 per year.
  • Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers and the property’s flood risk.
  • All policy forms provide coverage for buildings and contents, but remember the contents portion is optional….so know exactly what coverage is being purchased.
  • There’ is a 30-day waiting period from date of flood policy purchase before a policy goes into effect. That means now is the best time to buy flood insurance. There are few exceptions to this rule, but mostly involve a new home purchase.
  • Since standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S.
  • In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.

To learn more about Flood Insurance, please contact Ramona Johanneson at rjohanneson@fp-ins.com or by calling415-493-2502.