Where it rains, it can flood!
More than 20% of the claims due to flooding come from properties outside the high-risk flooding zones.
By: Edda Pujadas
DORAL, FL – No house is completely safe from possible flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ensures this. Through their national flooding insurance program, they want to raise awareness in the population about the importance to protect your property against this natural phenomenon.
For FEMA, flood insurance can make the difference between recovering and being financially devastated. According to the FEMA webpage (https://floodsmart.gov/), just one inch of water in a house can cost more than $25,000 dollars in property damage, for this reason, flooding can be a devastating event both emotionally and financially.
Flooding is considered the main natural disaster in the United States, therefore, it is striking that more than 20% of the claims for flood come from properties outside the high-risk flood areas. In 2016 the total amount of losses due to flooding was $3.7 billion, this figure increased to $8.7 billion in 2017.
Without flood insurance, the majority of the residents have to pay out of their pocket or request loans to repair and replace their damaged property. Mileny Santana from Soma Insurance explained us that flood insurance in Doral is very important because of the frequency and severity of these type of natural events.
Santana comments that “if you are not in a flood zone, you can purchase flood insurance voluntarily under a program known as a preferential program. In this case, you do not need an elevation certificate because your house is located in an area known as zone X. The regular flood program is designed for flood zones, for example, the AH zone and for these, a certificate of elevation is required together with other studies that determine the level of risk that is going to be insured.”
Regarding flood zones, Jacqueline Howard from Brightway Insurances in Miami Lakes states that in South Florida the flood zones are AE, AH or X (preferred). “Zones AE and AH are considered high-risk flood zones, but even for zone X whose risk is low we always recommend the flood insurance, because everywhere it rains, there is the possibility of flooding”
Howard explains that the prices in the premiums for flood insurance vary depending on the zone in which they are located, these can start between $300 and $400 annually, depending on the location and other specifications of the property. “Obviously insurance policies for houses located in the X zone are the most economical.”
Howard states that what she pays for flood insurance is connected with the amount of flood risk associated to the property. It is convenient to reduce the flood risk because this also helps to reduce the cost of the premium. For example, all the communities that are registered in the National Flood Insurance Program, in the Community Rating System, can get discounts on their flood insurance.
The Retrofitting Owners Guide from FEMA (https://www.fema.gov/homeowners-guide-retrofitting) can help you decide the best or correct method to reduce future damages and losses by considering several factors such as the risks in your home, permit requirements, technical limitations and costs. This guide will also help you develop a strategy to protect your house against flooding.
It is also important to know that if you elevate your house this can bring you savings in the flood insurance premiums, these can go from 30% to 60% and you can even get some help with the cost of these elevations through one of the many grant programs that FEMA has. These grants are managed by the states and each state decides which are the projects that they will finance and the amount of the grants.
It is equally important that you reduce the risk of damages due to flooding before the storm, for example, raising those critical utilities such as electric panels, switches, plugs, cables, appliances, and cooling systems; by cleaning debris from gutters, moving away furniture, valuables and important documents to a safe place and preparing an emergency supplies kit with food, water, medicine and batteries among other important supplies.
You must plan and practice an evacuation route in case of flood, you also need a plan for your pets and obviously, you need to verify your insurance policies and the scope of their coverage. Take pictures and videos in order to document an inventory of the valuables inside your home and keep an updated registry of all the articles and valuables that are the most important in your property. This is very important at the time to make an insurance claim.
In order to start a claim through the National Flood Insurance Program you must notify immediately your agent or insurance company and ask about the possibility of advanced payments, get prepared for the inspection where an insurance adjuster will verify the damages and then work with him to determine what is covered by your insurance policy, discuss about the claim process and determine the next steps. In order to get more information about the claim process of the NFIP, please visit FEMA.gov