Sunday, April 10, 2011

What is Flood Insurance and How Do I Know If I Need It?

It's that time of year again when the home insurance policies are due for renew. I got my homeowners policy and in a couple of months the flood insurance policy will follow. My mortgage company requires me to have flood insurance because my home is in a flood zone. It's a good idea because your home owners policy does not cover damage by rising waters. I'll probably never use it but I sleep better knowing it's there.

With hurricane season approaching it's better to be prepared. Some people make the mistake of thinking damage caused by rain and wind from a hurricane are covered by the homeowners policy. Many people in New Orleans made that mistake when hurricane Katrina came through.

So, if your lender doesn’t require flood coverage that obviously doesn’t mean you are safe from flood risk completely. Every home is at some type of risk for flood damage. So, how do you know what type of risk zone your home is in?

Your best bet is to visit the FEMA Flood Insurance website and for more information. They have a flood risk profile tool where you can type in your address and assess the flood risk of your home: FEMA Map Service Center. The results page will also show average flood insurance premiums in your area.

Don’t want to take their word for it? FEMA also offers online flood maps which are used to determine flood risk for each property. You can visit the FEMA flood map for your property to see exactly where the flood zone lines are drawn in your neighborhood.

These maps are only estimates of your home’s flood risk and should not be taken too literally. Many homes that are in “low risk” zones may experience a significant flood at some point- so it is always a good idea to purchase some flood coverage if you want to be completely protected.

In the event of a disaster, a home inventory can be your greatest asset. If your home is lost in a covered peril, your first call will be to your home insurance agent and your task of proving what was lost will begin. Will you remember everything you owned after it is gone? Especially in a time of crisis? Having a pre-established home inventory will take the headache out of that task- leaving you to focus on more important things.

Here is a checklist you can download to catalog all your belongings.

Download as Microsoft Word (261KB) 
Download as Microsoft Excel (47KB)

It's also a good idea to get out the video camera and do a room by room video inventory of your belongings. Be sure to open all the closets and record video of all your clothes, shoes, coats, and stored items. Get pictures of all special items like computers, electronics, tools, jewelry, etc. Be sure to note model numbers on expensive items.

If you have an iPhone, there's an App for that. Check out MyHome over at iTunes.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the very relevant information. I don’t take chances with my home, especially with when water damage can wreak so much havoc. Flood insurance is the way to go.


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