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What is a Flood Map and Why Would I Need to Know?

Friday, January 25th, 2019

FEMANo locale in the country can be considered 100% safe from damaging outdoor flooding. But do you know the exact risk for your home as officially determined by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)? There are good reasons why you should know and one very certain way to find out.

What’s Your Risk?

FEMA publishes flood maps, officially known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), for over 20,000 communities and counties in the U.S. Available online at the FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC), these maps depict information important to the homeowner including:

  • The relative annual flood risk at your address.
  • Boundaries of identified floodplains, location of ponds, streams and other contributing factors.
  • Changes in flood risk that may have occurred since publication of the last map.

Regularly revised as local conditions evolve, flood maps are color-coded to depict the level of risk ranging from areas that are determined to have very low risk—less that 0.2% chance of flooding in any year— up to the highest-risk zones calculated to have a 1% annual risk of flooding.

Why Does It Matter?

Homeowner’s insurance policies typically do not cover damage from outdoor flooding. Therefore, home flood insurance coverage in the United States is administered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your house is located in a moderate- to high-risk zone as shown on the local FIRM map, federal flood insurance is required under the terms of a federally-backed mortgage. If your home is in one of the lower risk zones on the flood map, federal flood insurance is not required but is strongly recommended.

How Much Will It Cost?

  • Homes located in areas identified as low or moderate risk on flood maps are eligible for the NFIP Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) rates. Depending of the dollar amount of coverage, yearly rates vary from $150 up to about $450.
  • In homes located in high-risk zones, coverage depends upon the home’s size, construction and the policy deductible, but averages around $700 per year. Insurance for houses located in low elevation areas at special risk of flooding may cost more.

5 Essential Flood Safety Tips For Your Family

Friday, April 20th, 2018

flood dangerFlood safety can be an issue no matter where you live. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, no geographic locale in the U.S. is totally immune to flooding from some source. In an average year, about 85 people are killed by floods in the U.S. However, “average” can be misleading: over twice that many (175) died in 2015.

The basics of flood safety sound simple: Go away when you’re told to leave and stay away until it’s safe to come home. However, a number of measures need to be taken while you’re home, when you leave and after you return.

1. Get Ready

If the potential for flooding exists, stay alert by monitoring TV and radio broadcasts. Prepare for  evacuation and inform all family members. Decide what to do about pets. Move valuables including furniture and electronics to a higher level in the house if possible. Disconnect electrical appliances.

2. Evacuate Promptly

If told to evacuate, do so without delay. Stay on recommended routes and don’t deviate to observe the flood.  If rising water stalls your car, abandon the vehicle immediately and climb to higher ground. Water less than a foot deep can sweep you off your feet so don’t wade into moving water. Avoid active disaster areas where rescue or emergency crews are working.

3. After The Flood Is Over

Don’t return home until you are given an all-clear. If the house is flooded, don’t enter it until electricity has been shut off—preferably by a qualified electrician removing the meter. Shut off natural gas at the meter valve.

4. Safety At Home

Be aware of hazards posed by contaminated floodwater. Avoid contact with bare skin, eyes and by inhalation. Stay out of rooms with sagging ceilings or bulging, drooping walls. Structure could collapse at any time.

5. In The Aftermath

Toxic mold growth in the house is a frequent after-effect of indoor flooding. Mold may cause illness and allergic reactions if not appropriately treated by qualified personnel. Report any symptoms to your physician.

 

3 Signs It’s Time for a Flood Insurance Overhaul

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Because your flood risks and potential losses due to flooding may evolve over time, a flood insurance overhaul may be a good idea to stay on top of the issue of proper coverage. If you live in a high-risk zone and have a mortgage, you are required to carry flood insurance by the lender. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk zone, it’s often still a wise purchase—your standard homeowner’s policy provides no coverage at all for flood losses. Once you’re covered, a number of conditions may necessitate a flood insurance overhaul at some point during your ownership of the house. Here are three scenarios:

flood insurance overhaulFlood Zone Re-Mapping

Your flood risk—and the cost of flood insurance—are determined by your location as depicted on FEMA flood hazard maps. Because flood risk changes over time, flood hazard maps are periodically re-evaluated. When new maps are issued, you may find that your risk has changed. If your home is no longer considered part of a high-risk zone, your insurance costs will decrease. Conversely, if you’ve now been incorporated into a high-risk area on the new map, you may be required to eventually buy more expensive insurance than that previously required.

Content Value Changes

Flood insurance that provides coverage for contents of the home—furniture, personal belongings, electronics, etc.—is determined by the actual cash value of your belongings. As part of a flood insurance overhaul, a thorough home inventory might reveal that the value of covered possessions vulnerable to water damage from flooding has increased or decreased. Insurance coverage for contents would need to be adjusted commensurately to ensure adequate compensation.

Home Alterations

Alterations you may have made to the structure of the house also affect the cost of flood insurance. For example, relocating expensive equipment like HVAC and electrical panels to an upper level of your home unlikely to be affected by flooding may make you eligible for a discount. Elevating the structure itself above the expected flood level will also lower insurance costs.

Ask a water damage professional at Rytech, Inc. about more factors that may influence a flood insurance overhaul.