As Ohioans across the state continue to witness higher than normal rainfall, it is not uncommon to see areas of high water and flooding. With these flood waters can come several problems; chief among them is the potential damage to your home and its property.
According to Ohio Weather Safety and the National Flood Insurance program, the average flood claim payout for an Ohio homeowner is $12,335. While that is an average cost across the state, a single payout for flood damage can be as much as $27,000 to $29,0001.
Flood Damage and Your Homeowner Policy
One of the most frequent misconceptions that we experience when speaking with our current and potential clients is that damage from flood waters will be covered under a standard homeowner or renters’ policy. In fact, flood damage to a home and its property is specifically excluded under a homeowner policy with very few and rare exceptions. This creates a gap in your protection and opens you to potential loss from flood.
Additionally, there is the mindset that if your property is not located near a river, stream, or other large body of water that there is not a risk of flood. The fact is that 98% of Ohio counties have been affected by a flood event1 at one time, and not all by the overflow of one of these water sources.
How to Cover for Flood
While this risk is not commonly covered under a homeowner policy, you do have the option of coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). With a flood policy, you have the choice of purchasing coverage for your dwelling and contents should they be damaged in a flood. As stated by the NFIP, this policy will cover harm to your property when there is an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties2.
As with all types of insurance coverage, you will need to apply for coverage with the NFIP. This application will ask specific questions about the property to be covered such as if it is used as a residential dwelling or commercial structure, the presence of a basement, the number of stories on the building, and the location of the building systems, to name a few. This information is used in conjunction with the federally established Flood Insurance Rating Map or FIRM. The map outlines zones using data collected from leading engineering firms and technical resources available to them. This information is then combined with structure data to develop a total cost, or premium, for coverage. In some cases, procuring what is known as an Elevation Certificate from a qualified surveyor can actually aid in reducing the cost of a flood insurance policy.
It is important to note that if you desire to obtain flood coverage when there is not a mortgage closing involved, there is a standard 30-day waiting period before coverage will go into effect.
I Heard that Flood Insurance Is Expensive!
Yet another misconception about flood insurance is that it is very expensive. If a residence or building is in what is classified a “high-risk” flood zone, the premium can be greater depending on the factors outlined above. What many do not know is that your dwelling does not have to be in a high-risk flood zone to obtain coverage. In fact, most homes in Ohio lay in what is defined as low to moderate risk. That does not exempt those properties from the possibility of incurring damage from flood waters. Earlier in the article, we discussed how 98% of Ohio counties had been affected by flood events.
The fact is that residences that are in a moderate to low-risk flood zone often have a premium that is only a small percent of their regular home insurance cost. For example, there is an individual whose home sits less than 140 feet from a river. This dwelling would be in a high-risk flood zone for certain – right? In this particular case, it is not. The Flood Insurance Rating Map places the dwelling in a Zone X. This is considered a low-risk flood area. For that reason, the cost for his flood coverage is less than half of what he is paying for his regular homeowners insurance policy. The proximity to a moving body of water would, of course, give this individual cause for concern. And because they would want to protect the home and property for flood damage, in addition to those risks that are covered on a standard homeowner insurance policy, a flood policy makes sound, economic sense.
By having a discussion with an independent insurance agency, such as Williamson Insurance, you may find that the cost to protect your valued property from this often-overlooked peril is mere dollars compared to the loss and damages that could occur.
1 Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness
2 FEMA and The National Flood Insurance Program