7 Flood Insurance Tips for Homeowners as Hurricane Florence Nears

Be prepared for Hurricane Florence and beyond.

Hurricane Florence could cause over $170 billion in damage and affect nearly 759,000 homes and businesses, CBS news reported. By contrast, Hurricane Sandy affected 650,000 homes and 300,000 businesses and caused $65 billion in damage. The storm will buffet the shore with winds of up to 140 miles per hour when it makes landfall on the Carolina coast. Much of the damage will come from flooding as the storm makes its way slowly inland.

Homeowners might think their property insurance will cover flooding, but that’s rarely the case. Damage from wind is usually covered, but flooding requires a separate policy. If you haven’t purchased flood insurance for Hurricane Florence, you’ll need to hope for the best, because policies have a 30-day waiting period.

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Here are seven things to know about flood insurance for homeowners:

1. The Cost of Flood Insurance Varies

How much is flood insurance? The average cost of flood insurance is $700 per year, but flood insurance rates can vary greatly depending on where you live.

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2. Your Risk Determines Your Cost

The cost is determined by the risk rating of your area, which can be low, moderate, or high. Some areas are considered undetermined-risk, if there’s no history of flood analysis in the area.

3. Even Low-Risk Areas Can Flood

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 20 percent of flood claims are from properties that are not in high-risk zones.

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4. Flood Insurance Can Pay When Disaster Assistance Doesn’t

There doesn’t need to be a Presidential Disaster Declaration in order for flood insurance to pay out. Your flood insurance claim is based on your situation alone.

5. Even an Inch of Water Can Cause Problems

FEMA says that even an inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to a home. Water damage and water damage restoration are major costs of flooding.

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6. Some Homes Are Required to Have Flood Insurance

Your mortgage company might require flood insurance if you live in a flood zone. If you’ve received FEMA disaster assistance in the past and live in a high-risk area, you must maintain federal flood insurance in order to be eligible for future federal disaster aid.

7. Different Kinds of Flood Insurance Cover Different Things

There are two kinds of flood insurance: building and contents. Building insurance covers your home, as well as things like your furnace and hot water heater. Contents insurance covers your possessions, including appliances like your washer and dryer.

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How to File a Flood Insurance Claim

When you need to file a claim with your flood insurance, follow these steps:

  1. Notify your insurer. Make sure you have the name of your insurance company, its phone number and your policy number.
  2. Document the damage. Take photographs of the damage, including any damaged property before you dispose of it. Make a list of damaged items.
  3. Complete a proof of loss form. An adjuster from your insurance company will contact you and help you fill out this form. You must submit this within 60 days of the flood.

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How to Apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance

Even if you have flood insurance you can apply for FEMA disaster assistance. Here are the steps to apply for assistance from FEMA:

  1. Register with FEMA. Use one of these methods:
  2. Get an inspection. An inspector will come to determine the amount of the damage. Have pictures available, especially if you have already started to clean up.

Note that assistance is limited to the amount needed to make the home safe and secure for those who live there. You might also be eligible for a long-term disaster loan from the Small Business Administration to cover losses that are not otherwise covered.

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Buy Flood Insurance From an Agent

You can buy flood insurance from an insurance agent. If your agent doesn’t sell it, you can contact the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-427-4661 and ask for an agent referral. Agents can give you a flood insurance quote based on your location.

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