Who Needs Flood Insurance?

Who needs flood insurance? Do you need flood insurance?

Most people tell me that they are covered for water damage in their homeowner's insurance policy. But are they?

Our office receives calls regularly asking for a surveyor's flood certification or flood certificate. The mortgage company had never required flood insurance and now they have decided to require it. Often, the homeowner tells us that they have never been flooded and that their house is located on a hill, high above the creek.

Our surveyors go out their property and determine the elevation of their home and compare it with the elevation on the FEMA Flood Maps. If the elevation of the home is above the elevation shown on the FEMA Map, then we will prepare a flood certification showing the elevations the home and the elevation of the 100-year flood plain. In this case, the mortgage usually drops the requirement for flood insurance.

This often saves the homeowner thousands of dollars each year.

Are You in a Flood Plain?

But what if you are in a flood plain? You are one of many "who needs flood insurance."

The definition of a flood plain is an area that has a 1 in 100 chance of flooding in any given year. This is more commonly referred to as the 100-year flood. It means your house is susceptible to flooding. Even though this sounds like the 100-year flood event will only happen once every 100 years, this is not correct.

If you are in a designated flood plain, please purchase flood insurance.

You do not have to live near a creek to be flooded. You property can be flooding because upstream development redirected storm water to your property. Instead of the water flowing around your house, it now flows into your house.

Our clients tell us that they have never had a flooding problem until "they" developed the property above them.
 
However, you should be aware that localized flooding can occur where storm drains or channels become temporarily blocked. Storm drains are not designed to function properly if blocked by debris. For this reason, you should be prepared to take protective measures if you live near a flood hazard area.

Just because the maps do not show your property in a flood plain, does not mean you will never be flooded. Who needs flood insurance? Maybe you do.

Flood insurance costs are based on the risk of your property being flooded. If your property is located above the flood plain, the cost to purchase flood insurance will be minimal.

Flood Plain Maps

Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ) is the government agency that creates flood plain maps. The maps show the areas that are located in a 100-year flood area.

Most 100-year flood designated areas are along streams. And just because you are far from a stream does not mean you will not be affected. It is the elevation that determines flood plains.

If you house is at the same elevation as the 100-year elevation of the flood plain, you are in a flood plain.

Homeowner's Insurance Policy

Your homeowner's insurance policy covers water damage like a leak in your plumbing. The walls are damaged and the carpet is a mess. This is the insurance you purchased.

Flood insurance is not a part of your "Homeowner's Insurance Policy." Flood insurance is sold as a separate policy.

Call your insurance agent and discuss exactly what your policy covers.

Who Needs Flood Insurance?

After a flood it is too late to ask, "Who needs flood insurance?" "Should we have purchased flood insurance?"  Your homeowner's insurance policy will not cover damages caused by a flood. You need a flood insurance policy for water damage caused by a flood. It is purchased from your local insurance agent and backed by the federal government.


Further Reading about Hydrology

From Who Needs Flood Insurance to Common Drainage Problems

Atlanta Engineering Services Home Page

Forensic hydrology basics

Common drainage problems

Erosion control and property damage

Creating a successful erosion control plan

How storm water can lead to erosion

Solving drainage problems with grass swales