According to FEMA, flooding is the most common and costly national disaster in the U.S and 20% of claims occur outside of high-risk zones.
Flooding Happens Everywhere
Every year we see news coverage regarding major floods in the U.S. According to FloodList.com, 315 locations are at moderate or major risk of flooding, and it’s only February.
West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Texas, and Oklahoma are already hard-hit. Many of these states flooded due to swelling river waters caused by extreme rainfall, but storms can and do stall anywhere.
California experienced serious flooding in 2017 after record rainfall following one of their worst droughts on record.
Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Protect You
Many people mistakenly believe their Massachusetts homeowners insurance policy covers flooding, when this is not the case. According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners insurance policies generally cover damages from perils such as theft and vandalism, fire, lightning, hail, and explosions, but water-related damage is another matter. A typical policy only covers sudden, unexpected events within your home, not flood water from overflowing sewers, rivers, or ocean swells.
Others believe since they do not live in a flood zone, they don’t need it. However, they may want to reconsider this risky position for several reasons.
If you live in a high-risk flood zone, your lender probably demands flood insurance to cover the outstanding balance, and understandably so. The average cost of a flood claim for a 2,500-sq.-ft. home by 6 inches is about $30,000.
However, the Ohio River rose 11 feet above flood level, with an estimated cost for the same home as $103,355. However, this would probably much more since the FEMA chart only estimates costs for up to four feet of water.
Obviously, these staggering costs are a prime reason to consider flood insurance, even if you live in a low or moderate-risk area. Most people could not afford to pay for remediation and many times you cannot live in your home during restoration.
If you do not know your home’s zone, you can search your address on the FEMA Flood Map website.
Don’t Rely on Government Aid
The only time the government steps is in is if it’s declared a federal disaster area. This occurs in less than half of floods. Even then, government agencies offer loans you must repay when you’re already strapped for money.
Buying Flood Insurance
You can buy flood insurance in Massachusetts, no matter your risk zone.
The National Flood Insurance Program offers $250k coverage for the structure and another $100k for belongings. However, you can also buy excess flood insurance through your local, independent insurance agent.
Flood insurance costs depend on your home’s location and how much coverage you need. Create a home inventory, call or visit an experienced agent, and get a quote.
Also, remember – there’s a 30-day waiting period before the policy goes into effect and you may need additional coverage for high-priced items such as jewelry, musical and computer equipment, and more.