Sunday, March 17, 2013

Are you covered if there's a flood? Because 98% of Kansas households are NOT.

In honor of National Flood Safety Awareness Week, let's consider the following hypothetical situation.

Say it’s springtime, and you notice a weather warning pop up on your TV – a severe thunderstorm and heavy rainfall is headed your way. It’s a little dreary, but no big deal…a little rain never killed anybody, right?


Heavy rainfall is one of the top causes of flash flooding, which is a type of flood that can turn a puddle into a torrential river in a matter of minutes, and they can happen virtually anywhere. Besides being the #1 weather-related killer in the U.S., flash floods (or floods of any kind for that matter) can cause an incredible amount of damage. They can rip out trees, roll boulders and destroy structures like buildings and bridges. They can even happen when there is no visible sign of rain – if rain has fallen upstream, gravity is going to pull that water your way.

It goes without saying that the most important thing during a flood is making sure you and your family are as safe as possible. But once you are out of danger, you might think you can stop worrying. Even if there is damage, you figure that’s what your homeowners insurance is for…but unless you have a separate flood insurance policy, none of that damage is going to be covered.

A lot of people would probably be surprised to learn that homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding. Flood insurance is federally regulated, meaning that in order to have coverage for a flood you have to purchase a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Created in 1968 by Congress to provide property owners with a way to protect themselves, the NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Premiums are determined by the flood risk based on Flood Hazard Mapping.

Some homeowners are required by their lender to carry flood insurance if they are in a high risk zone. But most people in low risk areas are not, and even those who are at high risk don't all carry insurance.

According to the 2010 Census, there are more than 1,100,000 households in Kansas, but FEMA statistics say that as of January 2013 there were only 13,132 flood insurance policies in force. We’ll let the math point out the poor tidings – that means less than 2% of Kansas households have flood coverage

For a state that is known for its flat stretches of plains and relatively few large bodies of water, this might not seem so strange. The problem is, as stated before, floods can happen almost anywhere for a variety of reasons…even in the seemingly most unlikely of places. Take this 2012 flood in Las Vegas, where they get an average of only 4 inches of rain a year. Compare that to our average here in Lawrence of 37 inches and suddenly the prospect of a flood doesn't seem so odd.

When these unexpected floods happen, a lot of people who thought they didn’t have to worry end up completely out of luck...not to mention out of A LOT of money.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is, if you are reading this before you experience a flood, you can still take steps to prevent financial disaster.

Contact your insurance agent today to find out what steps you need to take to get flood insurance coverage. Most flood policies have a 30-day waiting period after you buy it before coverage takes effect, so be proactive. Protect yourself and your family before it is too late.

Because, while this little guy might feel at home living in the water, I sort of doubt you will.


No comments:

Post a Comment