Who Needs Flood Insurance?

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

home and a car damaged by a flood

Spring flooding has been particularly devastating in recent years. And this year, as we continue grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of spring flooding is as strong as ever. In the midst of the 2020 spring flood season and with hurricane season on the horizon, it’s critical to consider whether or not your home or business is at risk for the peril of flood.

For many home and business owners, flood risk can be far from top of mind. However, climate change is exacerbating extreme weather conditions. Excess precipitation and rising sea levels are putting more and more communities, both coastal and inland, at risk of flooding. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), at least one-third of the country is exposed to flood risk.

So, how do you know whether or not your home or business is at risk? It can be complicated. Flood mapping conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is intended to identify flood-prone areas throughout the country. The maps are used to guide potential builders and homeowners from developing in or moving to these areas, assess flood risk, set premiums and determine who is required to purchase flood insurance. Unfortunately, many of these flood maps are out of date and fail to thoroughly evaluate various areas around the country.

A recent report from the Association of State Floodplain Managers revealed that FEMA’s flood maps cover only one-third of the country’s 3.5 million miles of streams and only 46 percent of shorelines. In some instances, decades old maps are still relied upon to serve as indicators of flood vulnerability. According to an article from Bloomberg, FEMA should be reviewing these maps every five years to evaluate if they still properly indicate flood risk, yet some maps dating back to the 1970s are still utilized to do just that. Further, the article notes that even newer maps fail to account for rapid rain accumulation, climate change, expected population growth or how buildings are constructed, leaving property owners vulnerable to risk they didn’t even know they had.

Flood damage can be costly, and and a standard homeowner’s policy doesn’t provide flood coverage. Flooding can occur almost anywhere, from freshwater shorelines to neighborhoods at the bottom of hills to America’s ample coastlines. For those living in high-risk flood areas, flood insurance is not only a smart decision but a requirement from federally regulated or insured lenders.

Don’t wait for a flood season warning or severe weather to get a flood insurance policy. Take a proactive approach: learn more about your home or business's exposure to flood risks and work with insurance professionals to get a flood insurance policy that better fits your needs.

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