After each new flooding event the media details the sad plight of homeowners who have lost everything, reporting many were uninsured for the risk of flood because “they do not live in a flood zone.” Such reports are dangerously inaccurate, and should be revised to explain many uninsured victims of flooding were not required by their mortgage lenders to purchase flood insurance simply because they did not reside in an area classified as a “high risk” flood zone. For greater clarification on this important issue, visit Flood Zones FAQs.
As we see in news reports each year, homeowners not residing in a “high risk” flood zones can still be vulnerable to sustaining a flood loss, and should examine their level of risk and consider purchasing flood insurance whether it is required by their mortgage lender or not. FEMA provides this very helpful online tool that allows consumers to identify how the Federal Government classifies their relative vulnerability to sustaining a residential flood: Learn Your Flood Risk on FloodSmart.gov.
Those who have been misled by media reports to incorrectly believe they are not at all vulnerable to flood damage should consider the following:
- People outside of areas mapped as high-risk flood areas file more than 20 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal disaster assistance for flooding.
- From 2006 to 2015, total flood insurance claims averaged $1.9 billion per year.
- In the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods.
- Since 1978, the NFIP has paid nearly $52 billion for flood insurance claims and related costs. (Data as of 2/25/16.)
- Only those who live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area and have a Federally backed mortgage are required to have flood insurance.
- Just a few inches of floodwater can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
- Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 15 feet high.
- Hurricanes, winter storms and snowmelt are common (but often overlooked) causes of flooding.
- New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths.
- In a high-risk area, your home is more likely to be damaged by flood than by fire.
Consumers should seek expert assistance from a personal risk advisor who can identify your exposure to flood damage, help control the cost of flood insurance, and identify new strategies to reduce the impact of a flood. Contact the RCM&D Private Client team if you or someone you care about needs assistance to examine this important risk.