Got flood insurance? Check your homeowners policy to be sure

SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES

Volusia County Government is reminding residents that as part of being prepared for a storm, they should review their flood insurance policies.

“Many people erroneously believe that because they don’t live in a high-risk flood area they don’t need flood insurance,” said Larry LaHue, a senior planner with Volusia County Emergency Management.

“As Hurricane Harvey demonstrated, a catastrophic flood can impact areas well outside of mapped high-risk flood areas. It is important to remember there is no such thing as a no-risk flood area. There are high-and low-risk areas, but there is no such thing as a no-risk flood area.”

Major damage
LaHue is very familiar with floods that have caused significant damage in Volusia County.

“In 2008, Tropical Storm Fay dropped more than 30 inches of rain on the west side of the county, and in 2009, the “No-Name” rain storm flooded hundreds of homes on the east side of the county, with both storms having devastating results,” he said.

“Many homes that flooded did not have a flood insurance policy, so the homeowners had to pay for repairs out-of-pocket. Just a few inches of water in a home can cost more than $40,000 to repair.”

Separate policy
According to www.FloodSmart.gov, floods are the No. 1 natural disaster in the United States.

LaHue added that a standard homeowners insurance policy typically doesn’t cover flood damage.

Because floods can occur anywhere, homeowners should consider purchasing a separate National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood policy through an insurance agent. The NFIP is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Not everyone understands the need for a separate flood policy,” said LaHue. “In fact, research shows there’s a common misconception that homeowners insurance covers flood damage when, in fact, it typically doesn’t.

Coverage needs vary
In a March 2013 survey commissioned by Allstate, 44 percent of Americans said they believed they were covered for weather-related floods when, in fact, only 15 percent reported having purchased a flood insurance policy through the NFIP.”

LaHue added that costs for flood insurance will vary depending on how much coverage you buy, what the policy covers and your property’s flood risk. The NFIP offers flood risk maps to help you identify your community’s level of risk.

If your home falls in a high-risk flood area and you carry a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender, your lender is legally mandated to require flood insurance on your property.

Typically, that’s not the case if your home falls in a moderate- to low-risk area.

30 days ahead
However, a lender may require you to hold flood insurance at any time — even if the company is not legally mandated to do so, according to www.FloodSmart.gov.

According to LaHue, while flood insurance is offered through the NFIP, policies are sold and administered by private insurance companies.

Most policies don’t take effect until 30 days after signing, so it’s a good idea to consider purchasing coverage before the storm season. Residents are encouraged to find an insurance agent to discuss their flood insurance needs.

Hurricane season continues through Nov. 30.

Stay informed
To learn more about how to prepare for flooding, Volusia County Emergency Management has resources online at www.volusia.org/floods.

Residents can stay informed during severe weather and disasters by signing up to receive emergency telephone or email notifications from Volusia County Emergency Management. They also can “like” Volusia County Emergency Management on Facebook and follow @VCEmergencyInfo on Twitter.

To sign up for the telephone or email notifications, or for more emergency preparedness information, visit Volusia.org/emergency.

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