If you’re like most people, the only time you think about Boston area flood insurance coverage is when a natural disaster occurs someplace else – to somebody else. While it’s only natural to have an “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy regarding your insurance coverage, recent events in Louisiana are enough to make us all take notice. Here are some reasons to consider flood insurance to protect your home.
Should You Have Boston Area Flood Insurance?
The tragic flood event in Louisiana is being compared to Hurricane Sandy, according to the American Red Cross. Flood waters have receded now, but many say the worst is yet to come. The highest payout for victims of the flooding is just $33,000 as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Sadly, that amount will be a far cry for most people to even begin to regroup, clean up and rebuild. Area experts estimate more than 110,000 homes have been damaged, and losses are expected to exceed $20 billion.
Compounding the disaster is the report that roughly 87% of the damaged homes are within the flooded area, yet only 21% have flood insurance. In other parishes, only about one in eight residences and businesses have flood insurance. The $33,000 maximum under FEMA guidelines is part of a grant program designed to assist homeowners who experienced flooding in the area and didn’t live in a neighborhood where flood insurance was required. The problem, however, may very well be to what extent the FEMA money will help – and what the amount will be.
A spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, Michael Barry, said he’s seen presentations by FEMA public affairs professionals that where the typical payout is going to be in the $9,000 to $10,000 range.
Those homeowners who should probably have flood insurance but don’t must usually rely on their own resources and abilities to rebuild. Many homeowners don’t carry flood insurance because their homes are paid for, and there’s no mortgage lending institution requiring the continued coverage.
The recent developments surrounding the Louisiana flood and others we’ve seen recently, like the devastating October 2015 floods in South Carolina, raise the question of whether you should consider Boston area flood insurance. For many, it’s an ongoing question. Of course, floods are common in low lying areas near bodies of water, and by not having flood insurance you’re taking a huge risk if a natural disaster occurs. For most people, the question remains, “What if I don’t live near a lake, river or other body of water… do I still need flood insurance?” The answer may surprise you.
Insurance experts say they receive numerous claims each year from flooding not necessarily associated with homes being located in flood-prone areas. Often it’s the saturation point after extended periods of rain that can be the culprit. When the ground is saturated to the extent that additional rain can’t be absorbed there’s little place for the rainwater – and ground water – to go. Even the slightest low lying areas can be affected with several inches or more of water, and that’s enough to do damage to your home’s subfloor, flooring, carpet and tile.
To further answer the question of whether you should have a Boston area flood insurance policy, consider this. Your normal homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover your home for damages caused by rising water. You have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy for that type of coverage. In addition, your Boston area flood insurance coverage must be in effect for a minimum of 30 days before you’re protected against a flood. In addition to separate flood insurance coverage, insurance experts recommend adopting a certain mindset when it comes to protecting your home. Many suggest asking yourself this simple question, “If the worst happened to my family’s home, are we protected?” If you said, “For the most part,” that may or may not be enough to answer the question and satisfy your peace of mind.
The simple truth is that almost any area is at potential risk of a flood event. Homeowners in South Carolina, for example, who had lived in their homes for 50 years or longer and never had even remotely come close to experiencing flooding became unwitting victims of the October 2015 flood. That’s the rarity – and danger – of the proverbial “1,000 year flood event.” And, as trite as it may seem, that’s the one you may have to insure against.
The good news is that Boston area flood insurance isn’t very expensive. A flood insurance policy is an easy, uncomplicated way to protect your home if a flood disaster occurs. Without flood insurance, even minor flooding of a few inches of water could cost thousands of dollars in damages and repairs. From a pure financial standpoint, flood insurance is much like other types of insurance – you pay for it, and don’t appreciate it until you need it – then, it usually takes but one claim to make you realize the benefit was worth the cost.
The bottom line is this. For peace of mind as well as for the safety and protection of your most valuable asset – your home – Boston area flood insurance should be something you consider. If you’re in a designated flood zone and have a mortgage on your home, your lender will require flood insurance. But remember, just because your lender doesn’t require it, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t have it or don’t need it. Like other types of insurance, it’s strictly a personal decision. One suggestion, however, before you dismiss the idea completely, take a look at some of the heartbreaking photographs of the recent Louisiana flood and ask yourself this simple question, “What if it happened to me and my family?”
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