Insurance is the one product that most of us buy—and hope that we never have to use. That’s especially true for insurance on our homes, since for most of us, our home is the most expensive and valuable item that we own. Whether you’re new to Florida or a long-timer, you already know that we may live in the Sunshine State, and summer season is our rainy season. Add that to hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, and we have real risks for rain–lots of it.
Unfortunately, lots of rain can mean flooding for those living in low-lying areas (and most of Florida is a low-lying area. Go figure). While living in a flood zone is certainly no guarantee that your home will be damaged, it’s important to always have protection for the unthinkable. According to FEMA, “Every year, more homes in the US are damaged by floods than any other natural disaster.”
Here are 7 things you need to know about insuring your property against a flood:
#1 – Homeowner’s insurance isn’t enough
Flood coverage in regular homeowner insurance policies is so limited as to be nonexistent. Your policy may include “covered events” but these events are not what most people think of a flood. If your home is damaged –a window gets broken or the roof is punctured—and rain from the storm comes pouring in, your homeowner’s policy will probably cover it, but you’ll be on the hook for flooding due to rising waters, storm surge, tides, and regular old rain.
#2 – It may be required
Anyone with a federally-backed mortgage who lives in a flood zone designated by the NFIP as “high-risk” is required by law to hold flood insurance. Your realtor® should be able to guide you with this question if a property is in a flood zone. You can’t buy a policy through the NFIP, but they do offer a referral service to put you in touch with an agent if you don’t already have one.
#3 – Here’s how to check the flood zones in Marion County
FEMA has a search function on their flood map service center: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search
You can look up a zip code, home address, or city in the map, and the results will generate a printable PDF. The map is color-coded with percentages of flood hazard for a particular area. For example, a horse farm in the NW of Marion County is rated at “minimal flood hazard” with less than .01% chance of an annual flood. In contrast, a cottage on Lake Orange has a much higher chance of flood risk according to the interactive map. This is a useful tool to help educate you about flood zones and pinpoint an address.
Remember too, according to FEMA, “It’s not just high risk areas that are flooded. Between 20 and 25 percent of flood insurance claims come from a medium or low flood-risk areas.”
#4 – Costs vary; be prepared to shop around
Annual flood insurance costs range from $346-$930 for an annual sized single family home. Proximity to water, including beach frontage, obviously has the greatest effect on insurance rates, but items such as drainage retention areas (DRAs), ponds, and lakes also can raise or lower premiums. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers coverage, and you may have the option of using private insurance companies as well. Obviously, check with your current insurance provider first, and see if they can help you with additional coverage.
#5 – You can use escrow to budget for flood insurance payments
If you don’t want to deal with large, infrequent insurance payments throughout the year, you can pay your flood insurance along with your monthly mortgage payment. Just like your regular homeowner’s insurance programs, your payments can be spread out over the course of the year, which will make budgeting much easier.
#6 – There are different types of flood coverage
All flood insurance policies are not created equal. The most common types are building coverage and contents coverage. Building coverage is more concerned with protecting the structural elements of your home: walls, roofing, flooring, HVAC, electrical systems, and the like. Contents coverage insures items inside your home like furniture, valuables, and appliances. Carefully consider what parts of your home would be the most difficult to replace before deciding on a flood insurance policy.
#7 – Don’t wait
Be aware that flood insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect. If you buy it on June 1, you be covered starting July 1. Don’t put it off until the big storm of the year is a week away—get it now! You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind, especially when the storm surge starts rising.
Having flood insurance will keep your home safe and let you rest easy knowing that you’re prepared with whatever Florida weather throws at you. For more information on flood insurance and living in a flood zone, contact one of our Showcase team members. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have on keeping your home safe and dry.
Worried about keeping track of all your important documents in the face of a possible disaster? Learn about the benefits of an Emergency Binder and what you should be including right here in our blog: How To Create An Emergency Binder For Your Home.