Why your HI won’t keep you dry

Living in Florida has its fair share of hazards, and the likelihood of your home being flooded is high on that list. According to FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in America, with more than 20% of flood damage claims filed by properties outside high risk zones. Despite the dangers, recent figures show that over 860,000 South Florida homes are still unprotected by flood insurance: that’s around two thirds of the 1.3 million homes in the area.

It’s a common misconception that Homeowner’s Insurance (HI) will automatically cover you. Here’s a look at why that isn’t the case, and why flood insurance is worth your while.

The natural need for FI

If there was a time for flood insurance (FI) to be in the public consciousness, it’s now. The middle of 2017 saw Florida rocked by storms and, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, dealing with record flooding issues. Irma in particular brought devastation and deluged homes, businesses and streets. The average claim for flood damage is around $50,000; a serious figure when estimates place 3.5 million Florida business properties and homes at risk.

Flash flooding can submerge roads and homes while the massive amounts of rain and displaced seawater that follow a hurricane can reduce an area to chaos in hours. Although there are peak times of year for this, the worst weather doesn’t follow a schedule and could hit at any time.

How flood insurance works

Don’t assume your Homeowner’s Insurance will cover you in the event of flooding. If you live in an area that’s designated a risk by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program (NFIP), you can purchase FI as a separate policy from an NFIP-affiliated insurance provider. It can’t be purchased from the NFIP itself.

Who and what it covers

The fine print of FI can mean variable coverage in differing sets of circumstances, but here’s a general summary of the kind of protection it provides. Businesses with FI can expect to be covered for:

• The building and its foundations

• Carpeting and paneling

• Air-conditioning, water heaters and furnaces

• Debris removal

• Detached garages

It’s important to note that FI can exist in two forms to cover buildings: one which covers the structure or building itself and another which covers the interior and its contents.

If you’re a homeowner or renter and want to look after your possessions, here are some examples of what FI will cover:

• Furniture, clothing and electronic equipment

• Food freezers and their contents

• Dishwashers, microwaves and air conditioners

• Personal possessions up to a cost of $2500

In both domestic and commercial instances, any items which are kept outside won’t be covered by FI. Papers of financial value such as stock certificates and currency are uncovered, as are financial losses to a business through interrupted trade or cost of temporary accommodation for those displaced from their homes.

Is FI essential?

Aside from the common-sense coverage, FI is mandatory if you have a federally-backed mortgage and live in a high-risk flood zone. A Letter of Map Amendment may exempt certain properties from the mandatory FI requirement but an application must be duly submitted for review.

How to stay informed and be safe

From relevant literature like this free guide, real-time updates like FEMA’s flood maps, and of course your local news media, there are ways to stay informed as to what dangers may be on the way. If you’re advised to evacuate your area you should always take these warnings seriously. In the event this isn’t an option, then taking some time to create a flood emergency action plan (here’s a guide) is extremely worthwhile. The worst can happen with only a few days to prepare. The rush at stores for equipment and supplies can be avoided with a little proactive foresight.

It’s also very important to remember that even when the bad weather has passed, your health and safety could still be at risk. Mold, fungi, and bacteria thrive after a flood and present serious problems. You can follow the steps in this official guide to ensure that you’re in the healthiest position possible.

It’s clear that no matter if you’re a homeowner, a renter, or you operate a business, you’re not fully prepared without having FI in place. Make an appointment with an insurance professional who can completely assess your individual circumstances.

Last but not least, remember that any policy you purchase could take up to a month to come into effect, so the sooner FI is organized, the better.

Avante Insurance is a South Florida family owned and operated insurance agency providing an array of insurance services to meet customer’s individual needs. For advice on all kinds of insurance, you can call us at 305-648-7070, request an insurance quote or contact us with any questions or comments.