Inland Flood Coverage – New, Easy, Affordable
Rainstorms and snowstorms are becoming more frequent and intense, and affecting more areas of the country. Inland Flood Coverage is an innovative response to these changing weather patterns that are increasing the risk of flooding in low-to-moderate flood risk areas.
A Comprehensive View of Flood Risk
Flood risk is a result of both fluvial and pluvial flooding and should provide a comprehensive view of all sources and extent of coastal and inland flooding. It is important to account for both types of flood risks to properly estimate the view of inland flood hazard. This helps avoid “surprise” losses, unfavorable risk or incorrect underwriting guidelines.
Inland Flood Hazard is Evolving
The U.S. inland flood landscape is affected by a number of geographical and manmade changes. Inland flooding can occur across a variety of annual time periods with durations of hours to weeks, and impact a wide geographic area—from single catchments or cities to entire river basins across multiple states.
Exposure and population growth generally leads to the development of more structures at risk, such as roads or parking lots, which can significantly increase the flood-hazard profile of nearby structures. For example, during the Houston floods, where a significant property and population growth was experienced over the last 15-20 years, the city is more prone to flash flooding during intense precipitation events.
Recent Inland Flood Scenarios
In the past 15 months, the U.S. has suffered several record-breaking or significant rainfall-induced inland flood events.
In May 2015, Texas experienced its wettest month on record, causing widespread flooding across the state and damaging more than 5,000 properties, most of which were residential and located in metro regions of Houston, Austin and Dallas. Although several counties were declared disaster areas and thus received federal relief money, the flooding has since become the second-costliest NFIP flood event not affiliated with a tropical cyclone.
In October 2015, a complex weather system brought consecutive days of torrential rain to South Carolina, causing widespread damage to properties, automobiles and public infrastructure. It caused well over a billion dollars in economic losses and hundreds of millions in insured losses, making it one of the top five U.S. natural catastrophes of 2015.
In March of this year, record flooding impacted the Southern Gulf. More than 20 inches of rain fell over a seven-day period in Louisiana, Mississippi and parts of Texas, causing flash and riverine flooding and damaging more than 13,000 properties. In April, extremely heavy rainfall hit parts of Southern Texas, causing widespread pluvial flooding. Precipitation-induced flooding impacted the region again in May and June, the already saturated soil conditions exacerbating the severity of the floods. At the same time, West Virginia suffered record-breaking rainfall totals that caused devastating flash floods after parts of the state received up to 10 inches of rain over the course of a few hours. The 24-hour rainfall totals were reported to be the worst in a century.
According to the government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a surprising 20 percent of flood claims in the United States come from homeowners in low-to-moderate flood risk areas, with claims averaging $27,000.
Inland Flood Coverage is designed for policyholders in lower-risk areas. Available as an endorsement to homeowners (could also be added on to farm owners or renters) policies, Inland Flood Coverage is affordable and easy to add.
Includes coverage for damage to:
• Residence and certain structures (e.g. a shed or detached garage)
• Personal property inside the home (e.g. appliances, furniture and electronics)
• Personal property in a basement or sunken room
• Damage to property you move off premises
• Debris removal
• Living expenses if the flooded home must be vacated
Exclusions include, but are not limited to:
• Personal property not inside the home (such as patio furniture, barbecue grill)
• Decks and fences
• Lawns, trees, landscaping
• Single and multiple family dwellings (1-4 condo units) are eligible
• Risks located in the 100 year flood plain are ineligible
• Certain coastal risks with exposure to flooding from storm surge are ineligible
• This coverage is not available in Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana and Puerto Rico
Note: This coverage does not satisfy federally regulated mortgage lender requirements for flood insurance.
Contact your agent to add this valuable coverage or Find an Agent for more information.
Be Prepared Before, During and After a Flood
• Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris.
• Move furniture and electronics off the floor, particularly in basements and first floor levels.
• Roll up area rugs, where possible, and store these on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.
• Prepare an evacuation kit with important papers, insurance documents, medications and other things you may need if you are forced to be away from your home or business for several days.
• Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.
• Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.
• Place all appliances, including stove, washer and dryer on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
• Prepare a survival kits for your family. Items can include:
o Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
o Extra batteries
o First aid kit
o Medications (up to a 7-day supply) and medical items
o Multi-purpose tool
o Copies of personal documents (deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
o Cell phone with chargers
o Family and emergency contact information
o Map(s) of the area
o Rain gear
o Insect repellent and sunscreen
o Camera for photos of damage
Safety during the event
• Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service.
• Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.
• When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay here.
• Stay away from floodwaters. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
• If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water, including SUV’s and pick-ups.
After the event
• Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
• Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
• Sometime wild animals will enter homes with the floodwater, this includes poisonous snakes.
• If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
• Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
• During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
• Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples.
• Contact your local or state public health department for specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area after a disaster as water may be contaminated.
• Watch out for scammers! Unfortunately during natural disasters, there are those who would take advantage of natural disaster victims. When finding temporary shelter, or aid work with reputable organizations like the Red Cross and FEMA when possible. Don’t give out personal information if you are unsure who will have access to it and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
• As soon as it is safe to do so, disconnect all electronics/electrical equipment and move it to a dry location.
• Remove as much standing water as possible from inside the building.
• Remove water damaged materials immediately.
• Ventilate with fans or use dehumidifiers to dry out the house.
• Acting quickly can increase the chance of salvaging usable materials, reduce the amount of rust and mold that might develop, and limit the likelihood of structural problems.
Considerations for the Claims Process
The insurance companies that provide the inland flood insurance policies have adjusters who will evaluate the replacement value of the flooded property.
In order to determine the appropriate replacement value, homeowners would be smart to have an independent evaluation, preferably before any demolition occurs and before the flood adjuster begins his evaluation. The homeowner’s estimator should consider the full extent of the damage to not only sheetrock but damage to electrical, foundation, finishings, cabinetry, baseboards, moldings, and all of the other things that make a home special. Those are things that an insurance adjuster (likely assigned hundreds of claims) might not take into consideration but, will greatly impact the replacement costs, and the ultimate value of the settlement with the insurance company.
As with any insurance claim, providing the right type of documentation is important. Photographs of the damage are critical. But also consider photographs that highlight the home or affected area before the flood. For example:
• Was there a recent appraisal in which photos were taken?
• Was there a recent get together where the affected area is photographed?
• Any Instagram or Facebook posts that show the property or affected area before the flood?
In addition to the photographs, take a full measure of your contents. Flood policies cover contents as well. Unlike the structural damage which can be measured by replacement value, damages to personal possessions are calculated using actual cash value. That means that the policy will only pay the replacement cost minus the depreciation of the possessions.