When it comes to floods, 2016 was a year for the record books: 19 major floods swamped the nation last year, more floods than any other year since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1980. Sadly, many of our neighbors in North Carolina and South Carolina suffered catastrophic devastation from floods related to unusually heavy rainfall, tropical storms and Hurricane Matthew.
Floods – even minor ones – inflict terrible and costly property damage. One of the most heartbreaking and preventable insurance scenarios that we encounter is how many people learn that they aren’t covered for flood damage until it’s too late.
So many people have the misconception that their homeowners insurance policy will cover flooding, but unless you have specific North Carolina flood insurance coverage, you are out of luck. Except in rare cases, flood insurance is almost always a separate policy. Renters also have misconceptions, thinking that if they suffer flood damage, they will be covered under a landlord’s policy, but the landlord’s coverage – if they have it – would not cover a tenant’s possessions.
One common reason that many people don’t have flood insurance in North Carolina is that they assume their risk is low if they don’t live in a high-risk flood zone and they don’t want to incur the additional expense. It can be a costly misjudgment to forgo this coverage because you think your risk is low: residential flood claims averaged nearly $43,000 over the five most recent years of tracking.
And your risk may not be as low as you think: Per statistics from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), about one in five of the claims paid in any given year are paid to policyholders in low-risk areas. And NFIP says that over a 30-year mortgage, your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood, compared to a 9% chance of being damaged by a fire.
One other misconception we often encounter: when heavy rain is predicted, news reports talk about the importance of flood insurance. Inevitably, that means that we get calls here at Spivey Insurance from people looking to put a policy in place before the storm. But typically, there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage is in effect, so an eleventh-hour purchase is usually too late to afford any protection. Flood insurance is something that needs to be planned before any problems are predicted.
Business owners often share the same faulty risk assumptions that homeowners have, but the cost for being wrong can be even more costly. The average commercial flood claim topped $90,000 over the last five years. Even worse, NFIP says that a quarter of all businesses that close after destructive events like floods never reopen. Having the appropriate coverage to address a flood can reduce this risk.
It there’s one message we’d like to convey to our neighbors, it’s this: talk to us about flood insurance.
It’s often much less costly than people think, particularly in low or moderate risk areas. And it can be a wise investment, given the high cost of damage. Feel free to give us a call at 704-821-4460 or stop by our office – we’d love to meet you and talk things over.