ORLANDO, Fla. – The average height above sea level in Florida is about 6 feet. Regardless of whether your residence is in a flood zone, insurance is something that should be considered when preparing for hurricane season.
Dewana Davis, FEMA’s regional flood insurance liaison for region 4, which covers Florida, says 25% of flood insurance claims come from people who aren’t in high-risk or flood zones. That’s basically 1 in 4 claims filed.
Davis has heard all the excuses.
“‘It just never floods. If it floods here, Noah’s Ark would need to be here.’ We hear that a lot and try to dispel that,” Davis said.
Davis said everyone needs to look at their individual risk.
Yes, flood insurance can be pricey and it’s a premium that can’t be paid in installments.
There is some good news, though: The cost depends on location.
“If you’re in a lower risk area, then more than likely that premium is going to be more affordable for you. And it will not be a burden to actually purchase flood insurance,” Davis said.
According to Davis, that premium may end up being less than what you pay if you didn’t have a policy and incurred damage due to a hurricane.
Davis broke down the numbers and found the average flood insurance claim pays out $43,000. If a homeowner doesn’t have a policy and relies on FEMA’s disaster aid to help out with the damage, that homeowner could get up to $6,000 if a federal disaster declaration is made. That would leave $37,000 for the homeowner to pay for out of pocket, based on the average claim. Without that declaration, the entire cost to repair the home is left on the homeowner. That’s a lot of money and the expenses add up quickly.
“Typically, one inch of water in your home on that first floor is approximately near $25,000 in damage,” Davis said.
That’s usually where the priciest items to replace, like kitchen cabinets and flooring, are located in the home. Davis also advised homeowners to make sure the contents inside the home are covered as well. Many policies only cover the structure and not the belongings inside.
FEMA offers policies through the National Flood Insurance Program.
“The key to it is, if you have a flood insurance policy, you’re covered regardless of if there is a federal disaster declaration or not,” Davis said. As far as the payment for the policy goes, there is work being done in Congress to make flood insurance payable in monthly installments, but for now, the cost of the policy is due at the time of purchase.
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