Do I Need Flood Insurance?
I’ve agonized over writing this blog in light of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Part of me is afraid of people thinking I’m taking advantage of the situation. The other part of me is screaming that people are finally paying attention to something very important and if I don’t say it now the message will be lost once everything calms down. I’ve learned in life that we learn one of two ways: through revelation or tribulation. Tribulation is obvious; we learn from the hard knocks in life. Revelation is easier because you get to learn through the experience of others. I want everyone that can to learn by revelation because it’s a lot less painful and expensive.
As a society we have an opportunity to learn from the Harvey disaster. The scale of the damage is hard to describe if you haven’t seen it with your own eyes. Some of my friends and I were down there last week delivering trailers full of supplies we gathered over a couple of days. I’ve been amazed at the outpouring of love I’ve seen. We were able to fill 3 big trailers in just a couple days. Enough to fill a whole semi-trailer that will serve as a distribution point for their community full of cleaning supplies, toiletries, clothing, food, water and pet food. The area that we were in had about 40,000 residents and most of their homes were damaged; not by the winds of Hurricane Harvey but by the flood. They basically had their regular total annual rainfall in about 36 hours! It’s unprecedented to say the least. And that’s why a majority of the residents got caught off guard.
Few with Actual Flood Insurance and Probably Surprised they Aren’t Covered
While we were down there I asked the local agent how many people in her area carried flood insurance. She wasn’t sure and her answer doesn’t serve as an official statistic but her estimate was about 10-15%. That means 85-90% of those homes and businesses damaged by the flood have NO CLAIM!!! That means no insurance company to count on to help fund their rebuild. The rebuild is going to come totally out of their own pockets. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. Especially when you think about the fact that their average repair bills will be tens of thousands and a flood insurance policy for a lot of people would have cost hundreds as long as their structure wasn’t in a known flood plain.
How Online Cheap DIY Insurance Failed Many
We can choose to learn from Harvey and avoid the painful experiences that many are suffering through right now. First Harvey shows us the complete failure of online DIY insurance. I believe John Maxwell once said, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Well in this case it’s obvious many people didn’t know that flood insurance is not included on any regular homeowners/dwelling policy. You must purchase flood insurance separately either through the National Flood Insurance Program or a surplus lines company. Plus, the limits you are allowed to carry depend on whether or not you have to go through the NFIP or not. Certain flood plains carry limits on dwelling and limits on personal property.
Unfortunately, You DO Live in a Flood Zone
Second, ALL property in the U.S. is a designated flood zone. I say this because the flood caused by Harvey reached areas they’re now calling the 1,000 year flood plain. Lots of people I have talked to have said, “I’ve heard of a 10 year or 20 year flood plain but I didn’t even know there was a 1,000 flood plain.” My point is anything can flood. It just takes the right circumstances. Rising surface water is flooding. That could be a lake, river, creek or even a pond overflowing because of torrential rains. Street drains can become clogged with debris and cause flooding. You don’t have to be in a “flood plain” to need flood insurance.
Flood Insurance is Surprisingly Affordable
And that brings me to my final point. Flood insurance is surprisingly affordable. Yes if you have to go through the NFIP then flood insurance can be expensive. But it’s expensive because of the propensity of the property to flood. A vast majority of people don’t have to carry NFIP flood insurance. Most can go through one of the surplus lines companies and the insurance is incredibly affordable. I’m talking about a few hundred dollars a year. Even better, you’re not limited on your dwelling amount or your personal property amount like you are with the NFIP.
Get a Quote
So please learn the easy way. Go ask your agent about flood insurance. Don’t have a local agent? Call us and we can help you. At least have the conversation with an agent, get the details, the quote to and make an educated decision to carry flood insurance or not. And don’t wait. Do it now because you can’t wait till the storm starts to roll in. All flood insurance policies have a mandatory 30-day wait period before the can be put into force.
Help Harvey Victims
Finally, we’re still collecting donations for Hurricane Harvey victims. I don’t know how many more trips we’ll take down to the affected areas but people still need a lot of help. If you’d like to donate check out my Facebook page for an updated list of items they need.