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Legal Issues
Dec 1, 2015

Don’t Fall For Flood Insurance Myths

Sponsored Content provided by Geoffrey Losee - Partner, Rountree Losee LLP

My partner, Steve Coggins, has a wealth of both legal and practical knowledge on coastal management and insurance law. Both he and I have had the experience of dealing with insurance claims that arose out of water entering our homes. (Pun intended! Special thanks to Steve for his contribution to this article.)

Flooding from the October 2015 “Supermoon” tides and record rainfall really walloped Southeastern North Carolina. Many low-to-moderate risk areas were inundated with up to four feet of water. Check out this photo Steve took on Edgewater Club: 

When he shared this with me, we were both hoping that the homeowners in that area had flood insurance to help with the damage. After all, flood insurance for moderately-priced homes in moderate risk areas is a good buy. For as little as $380 a year, you can purchase $200,000 in building coverage and $60,000 in contents coverage. The average premium is about $700 a year, even though the federal government is phasing out coverage subsidies. I recommend buying it! (It paid for itself hundreds of times over when my house flooded during Hurricane Floyd.)

Many folks don’t have flood insurance. In my experience, this is because they don’t feel the need if the coverage is not required by a bank (which is often the case if the area does not often flood). A recent news report confirmed this: a local homeowner did not buy flood insurance because he thought it was available only for homes in a "flood zone."(1) That is NOT SO. And since then, I have heard some folks say the opposite – they thought you could get flood insurance only if you are not in a flood zone. That is not so, either.

In my opinion, you need flood insurance – even if you don’t live in a high risk area.

While floods are the number 1 cause of disaster in the U.S., many folks think they are not at risk if their homes were never flooded. Wrong. The risk can change for the worse over time. For example, increased development can replace nearby natural areas with impervious surfaces. In that event, heavy rains are no longer quickly absorbed into the ground. Instead, they quickly run over the hardened surface – in direction of a formerly “dry” home. Combine that with rapid rainfall accumulation, poor drainage systems, or backed-up water mains and you can have a real problem on your hands. Small wonder that more than 20 percent of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims are not from high-risk areas.

Here are a few things you need to you know about flood insurance:

  • You can get flood insurance for most places
  • However, NFIP flood insurance is not available everywhere at the beach. If the beach property is in an unimproved “COBRA” zone, the NFIP insurance is not available.
  • You probably can afford flood insurance. True, it’s frightfully expensive for beach homes, and it’s going to get worse. But most homes in our area are not on the beach. For those homeowners, the cost of coverage can be quite reasonable, especially when you consider the risk of not having it.
  • Your wind and rain homeowners’ policy IS NOT the same as flood insurance. Wind and rain policies do not provide flood coverage. While the policy might cover rain damage after a storm damages a roof, it does not cover water damage from floods. Sometimes, it’s not clear if water damage was caused by the driving rain or by flooding.
Bottom line: I am a firm believer in obtaining flood insurance coverage. When you have it, as I do, you can sleep soundly knowing that even if there is some debate about which policy covers your home, you are covered. Without a flood policy … in my opinion, you are facing one of those coverage gaps that are touted in currently TV ads for one insurer. Mind the gaps!

Geoff Losee can be reached by visiting www.rountreelosee.com, by email at [email protected] or by calling 910-763-3404. Rountree Losee LLP has provided a full range of legal services to individuals, families and businesses in North Carolina for over 110 years. As well-recognized leaders in each of the areas in which they practice, the attorneys of Rountree Losee provide clients a wealth of knowledge and experience. In their commitment to provide the highest quality legal service, they handle a wide range of legal issues with creativity, sensitivity and foresight. 

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