When the Water Rises
Recent disasters have proven that flood insurance
is more important now than ever before.
Disasters usually have a way of reminding us of important lessons. In late-summer 2005, that disaster
was Hurricane Katrina, and the lesson was to always be prepared.
Out of the rubble of the Gulf Coast region emerged a lack of preparedness on a variety of levels. On a
basic level, most citizens lacked flood insurance, even though New Orleans is a city surrounded by water.
In fact, it was estimated that between only 30-40% of residents hit by Katrina had any form of flood
insurance. In some places, this number was even lower.
Many policyholders do not realize that basic homeowners insurance does not
include protection from flood damage. Instead, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) administers flood insurance through a federal
In many cases, if your home is in a high-risk area for flooding, you must get
flood insurance in order to get a mortgage. In the wake of Katrina and later,
Hurricane Rita, many called for flood insurance to become mandatory in high
and even medium-risk areas. Just as auto insurance is required by the
government, flood insurance could be too. Increased participation would also
mean much lower rates, the more people who sign up, the cheaper the
Flood insurance is actually quite affordable. But that has yet to increase its
popularity. According to insure.com, only one-quarter of the most vulnerable
homes are insured, even though statistics have shown that their homes are
much more likely to be flooded than be destroyed by fire.
And in the case of Katrina, flooding wasn’t the only damage to homes and
businesses. Looting and fires ended up destroying many possessions.
Prices depend entirely on the amount of coverage you wish to purchase and
the area your home is located in. The “average” cost of flood insurance is
about $438 for a year. Costs for the insurance can range from around $2,000
a year in a flood-prone area for $250,000 in building coverage with $100,000
coverage for the contents. If you simply live near a flood zone, instead of in it,
the prices for $35,000 in building coverage and $10,000 for the contents will
cost about $300 a year. This is for people who live in a low to medium risk
Recently, flood insurance providers in South Carolina and California, two
flood-prone areas, have received a large increase in calls asking about flood
insurance policies. This may be a sign that the disaster in the Gulf has helped to remind people of the
need for preparation.
Flood insurance may not be right for you, and you may not live in a high-risk area. But at any given
moment, many formerly safe areas can be flood-prone and the results can be devastating. Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita have taught us all to be more prepared in the event of a disaster and one of the best
ways to make sure your home and possessions are safe, is to buy flood insurance.
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