How to best cover your property against floods
With a hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season now underway, up to 20 named storms this year could have an impact on many coastline communities.
Inland flooding from tropical rain is also a risk, and making sure your property is adequately insured can create real peace of mind and make recovery easier.
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There’s a 30-day grace period when you purchase a flood insurance policy.
"So if you're thinking about it right now, and you're getting rain in your area, it might be too late," said Sean Kevelighan, CEO of Insurance Information Institute. "However, it's always good to call. Flood insurance is imperative."
Flooding is the No. 1 most devastating natural catastrophe that Americans face. And when you have rain, you can have flooding.
"So you have to get that separate flood insurance policy either through the National Flood Insurance Program or call your insurance professional because there are many private flood insurance options today as well," Kevelighan said.
And if someone has flooding occur, and they are insured, there is a personal responsibility to create protections in their home.
"No one really wants to get their goods damaged. So, we encourage people, if you feel that you're flood-prone, elevate your materials, make sure you put things in a safe place," Kevelighan said.
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Personal belongings are seen floating in the flooded basement of a home on Hayward Place on September 02, 2021, in Passaic City. (Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images)
Homeowners should also take inventory of what they have by simply walking around their homes with their smartphones and taking pictures of their items.
"Do everything you can to make sure that you make yourself more resilient to the damage because nobody really wants their goods to be damaged and to have to go through that process," Kevelighan said.
"We always encourage people to prepare and try and adapt themselves accordingly," Kevelighan said.
If things are flooding right now, and you don’t already have flood insurance, unfortunately, Kevelighan said, what will probably happen is the need to file for government assistance.
"It's pennies on the dollar, to be honest with you, in comparison to what you would get if you had a flood insurance policy," Kevelighan said.
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And those living on the coast, like in Monroe or Miami-Dade counties in Florida, have high flood insurance rates, according to Kevelighan. But if you go into Polk County, or those inland counties in Florida, they're less than 10%.
"Ida had devastation up there in New York with Westchester County. That was a 4% take-up rate on flood insurance. People really got to be thinking about this flooding more and more because it's happening inland. Even with the hurricane and tropical storms, this is not a coastal issue," Kevelighan said.
Walter Bardon removes flood damage items from the basement of his family's home in Quincy, Mass., in the aftermath of a nor'easter storm on March 5, 2018. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe / Getty Images)
Looking at the forecast for this season, you see how hyperactive it is. The U.S. is now in its seventh consecutive year of a lot of tropical activity.
There is still time to apply for flood insurance and have it effective for this season, but you need to call your insurance professional.
You can also go to FloodSmart.gov, FEMA's website which allows you to better understand the National Flood Insurance Program.
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"Keep in mind, though, that National Flood Insurance program, you have a lot of high-dollar homes along the coast. It only covers you up to $250,000 on a policy for structure, $100,000 on materials," Kevelighan said.
So it’s important to figure out if you might need excess flood insurance as well.
Flooding is happening more and more through the hurricane season, Kevelighan said, and it’s imperative to prepare now because we're just getting started.
The FOX Weather app is a great resource to keep you informed of storms in your area and has a 3D radar that you can use to track storms. The free FOX Weather livestream is also available 24/7 on the website, app and on your favorite streaming platform. The FOX Weather Update podcast also provides weather information for the entire country.