When most people think about flooding they normally think about areas like the coast. They don't think about inland areas like Birmingham Alabama, Huntsville Alabama, Hoover Alabama or even Montgomery Alabama. This is one reason why many times insurance agents, realtors, lenders, and property owners are not aware of the flood insurance options in Alabama.

In this blog we are going to particularly talk about private flood insurance in Alabama and everything you need to know about.

The majority of people in Alabama still think the only flood insurance option available in Alabama is through the National Flood Insurance Program.

However this simply is not the case. Private flood insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program are both available in Alabama. Private flood insurance has really made a push into Alabama in the last 10 years.

However before you start rushing to the private flood insurance market there are some things you need to know.

  1. Who qualifies?
  2. What does admitted and non admitted mean?
  3. What coverages are available?
  4. Pricing
  5. Claims process

Qualifications

So let's talk about  who qualifies for private flood insurance in Alabama?

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Almost any body can qualify for private flood insurance in Alabama except those that are on the severe repetitive loss property list.

This is a property FEMA has designated because of a certain number of flood losses within a certain time frame.

There are a few things that could disqualify you based on the private flood insurance company. For example some private flood insurance companies will not insure a property that has had any flood loss, then there are some that only restrict it within the last 5 years, and then there are some that restrict it to just none claim within the last 5 years.

Something else that could disqualify you for private flood insurance in Alabama is the type of loan you may have on a property?

FHA loans restrict flood insurance options to only the National flood insurance Program, so this is one thing that could disqualify you. While other loan types in Alabama do allow private flood insurance it still has to meet certain guidelines.

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In order for banks to accept private flood insurance it has to meet the U.S.C 402C. which is the private flood insurance standard of being the same as the National Flood Insurance Program.

The reason for this is because it's a different type of program.

Private flood insurance in Alabama is broken into two different categories. You have non admitted and admitted.

So whats the difference?

Admitted insurance companies are companies that are licensed to do business in a state. They have to follow certain state laws and consumers have certain protections if the company goes out of business.

Non admitted insurance companies are not licensed in a state but are still allowed to do business there. They do not have to follow the same state laws but do have other guidelines they have to follow. Consumers do not have protection if these companies go out of business. Non admitted companies can also charge different fees that admitted companies can not.

It's important to know as of 2020 Alabama does not have any admitted carriers for private flood insurance.

So what coverages are available?

 

Private Flood Insurance Coverages

Well this is where private flood insurance in Alabama can be very beneficial. Private flood insurance offers unique coverages on commercial and residential flood insurance in Alabama.

Let's look at residential flood insurance first. The National Flood Insurance Program only offers up to $250,000 on buildings and $100,000 on contents. Private flood insurance can go up into the millions on building coverage. They also offer additional living expenses so if your property floods then you would have a temporary place to stay. This can be really important if repairs take 3-6 months.

Now let's look at the commercial coverages. The National Flood Insurance Program only offers building coverage up to $500,000. As you can imagine this would not go very far on a commercial building. Private flood insurance also offers coverages into the millions here. One major thing that the National Flood Insurance Program does not offer is business interruption coverage. This is a critical coverage for a commercial flood insurance policy.

Let's look at an example of where you would use this coverage. Let's say that you own apartment complexes in Birmingham Alabama. Its been an usually wet few months and the Cahaba river starts to overflow causing water to enter the apartments.

Apartment building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Well residents can't live in these apartments until the repairs have been done.

Let's say that 30 units are damaged and you rent them for $1000 a unit. If it takes 3 months to repair them then thats $90,000 you could be out of pocket. However a private flood insurance policy could cover this expense. As you can imagine this could send some business owners into bankruptcy.

Now that we have a good understanding on the differences in coverage lets discuss pricing.

 

Pricing

We hear from people everyday in the Birmingham and Huntsville Alabama area that all flood insurance is the same. While this technically is the case for a National Flood Insurance Program policy. This is not the case for private flood insurance. Each flood carrier looks at risk differently. The two things that most are looking at are the elevations of the building and the location to flood risk in the area. FEMA is using their outdated flood maps and private flood insurance companies are using different technologies.

Because of this its not unusual for private flood insurance in Alabama to be 40% cheaper than the National Flood Insurance Program.

So what about claims?

 

Private Flood Insurance Claims

We can talk about all the other stuff all day long. However at the end what matters is when you have a claim you are covered and its a smooth process. FEMA claims can take 6 months to a year to settle if it is a smooth process. What about private flood insurance claims?

We had a client in Centre Alabama that suffered a total flood loss in 2019 from the flooding. While this customers neighbors were still battling with FEMA after 6 months he had is private flood insurance claim settled within 60 days. Since it was a total loss they paid off the mortgage.

We had the exact same thing happen with a client in Nebraska where they settled within 60 days and everyone else was waiting on FEMA.

So before jumping into the private flood insurance market in Alabama it's important to ask the questions we have discussed today. This will help you understand the type of company you are dealing with and confident that the claims process will go smoothly.

So if you have questions about private flood insurance in Alabama then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

 

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Flood insurance, water damage, and water backup can be confusing. When do you have coverage and Do you need additional coverage? These are things that you need to know. We hope to give you the answers to these questions in this blog. To get a good understanding you want to put yourself in the shoes of different scenarios.

So let's look at if you do have water in your home.

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So you come down stairs to find out you have 6 inches of water in your living room and kitchen.

Where did it come from?

In your insurance going to cover the damage?

These are usually the first two questions property owners ask when this happens.

Today we want to talk about some different types of coverage when you have water in your home.

  1. Flood insurance
  2. Water back up

Let's look at flood insurance first. How does FEMA define flood?

According to FEMA a flood is when A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from: (1) The overflow of inland or tidal waters; (2) The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.

Water back up is when water backs up into your home normally as a result of a sewer or septic back up.

So now that we have an understanding of what flood insurance and water back up are let's discuss some water damage scenarios to help you understand if you are covered.

We want to look at 3 scenarios

  1. Water leak from a dishwasher
  2. Water coming in your home
  3. Water coming from toilet

Remember that water you found in your living room, well lets talk about how it possibly got there?

Come to find out it looks like your dishwasher had a broken hose over night.

So what coverage would apply in this scenario?

Well depending on the type of coverage you have on your home insurance policy coverage should kick in here. While the home insurance might cover it, it still may not fall under the water back up portion.

One thing is for sure and that is that flood insurance would not cover this damage.

Let's look at a different scenario lets talk about the fact that you discovered water is coming into your home. It seems that the water is coming from the doorway. All the rain that has been received recently along the Mississippi River has caused some local creeks in the area to overflow their banks.

You look out the window to look at your yard but there isn't a yard. There is just a small river running in your backyard. So are you covered?

You might be covered and you might not? If you don't have flood insurance then you definitely are not covered. If you do have flood insurance then one of two things need to have happened in order to be covered.

Either 2 acres or more need to be inundated with surface water or 2 properties or more need to be inundated with water. So let's say you leave in a neighborhood that has some new development. As a result of that development water has been redirected towards your home. Your property seems to be the only impacted then more than likely flood insurance will not pay out.

Let's take a look at the last scenario. You come downstairs to discover this water and you started walking around on the soaked carpets. You walk into the hall bathroom to discover that the toilet is still overflowing. Not only do you have water throughout your home but now you have the smell of sewage water, yuck right.

This is a prime example of where water back up coverage on a home policy normally comes into play.

Water back up is not normally included on many home insurance policies. So its definitely something you want tom review with your insurance agent when setting up your home insurance policy.

We have discussed just three of many scenarios where water can come into your home. As you can see there can be a different type of coverage for every scenario.

This is why is so important that your review your flood insurance with a flood expert like The Flood Insurance Guru and your home insurance with a home insurance expert.

So maybe you have more questions about water damage in your home? What are your options for flood insurance? How to prevent water from coming into your home? Then make sure to visit our website Flood Insurance Guru. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or our Facebook page Flood Insurance Guru.

 

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Building a house can be an exciting time and stressful one. There are many things to do like finding the right lot, finding the right builder, and staying on budget.

 

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It's not a shocker than when building a house one thing most people don't think about is flood insurance.

We are going to discuss some things you can do to make sure you don't get blind sided.

We are going to discuss

  1. Verifying the flood zone
  2. Picking the right foundation
  3. Flood insurance options

So you have decided to finally build that dream home in lake country on Lake Oconee in Madison or Eatonton Georgia. You have found the perfect lot and now you just need to put it under contract. This is normally the area where so many Lake Oconee property owners get themselves in trouble.

When looking at purchasing the Lake Oconee lots you want to verify what type of flood zone the property is in? It's not unusual for the property to be in a couple different flood zones because of the way FEMA does their flood maps.

We are going to look at 3 types of flood zones and what they mean for your lake property.

  1. Flood Zone X
  2. Flood Zone A
  3. Flood Zone AE

Flood zone X is the best case scenario for your Lake Oconee property. This zone is considered a minimal risk zone. While flood insurance is not required in this zone it it is recommended as almost 30% of flooding occurs in these areas. I mean look at Nathan Estates in Muscle Shoals Alabama the entire neighborhood flooded in 2019 even though it was a minimal risk zone. 80% of flood of victims during hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance because they were told they were in a low risk flood zone. The video below gives you a better understanding of flood zone X.

Now let's look at flood zone A this zone can be a little confusing. While this is whats considered to be a special flood hazard area where flood insurance is required some of the risk is undetermined. Much of flood zone A in the Madison Georgia does not have a base flood elevation.

This is the elevation FEMA believes flooding will come to so there is not one you can imagine it can be a little bit of a hidden risk. The video below gives a better understanding of flood zone A.

Now lets look at the last flood zone and the one that would more than likely impact your Lake Oconee property. That is flood zone AE this is considered to be the highest risk zone outside of coastal zones. Unlike flood zone A flood zone AE does have a base flood elevation determined. The video below gives a good understanding of flood zone AE.

Now that we understand the different flood zones in Madison and Eatonton Georgia and what is required let's look at foundation types.

Foundation types on a Lake Oconee property can have a big impact on flood insurance. The more negative your foundation is compared to the base flood elevation the higher your flood insurance premiums can be. This is one reason it is recommended to build homes in this area with above grade crawlspaces.

By putting in flood vents many times you can help minimize the damage to your home through mitigation and lower your flood insurance premiums at the same time.

Installing these flood vents in the Madison or Eatonton Georgia area has some requirements. In order to get the right credit they have to have at least 2 vents on opposite walls of the building and be 1 square inch for every total square foot.

So if you have a 2000 square foot house you need 200 square inches in flood vents.

There are two types of flood vents available. You have engineered and Non engineered flood vents. While engineered will last you much longer keeping your maintenance low FEMA doesn not recognize these separately.

So we have talked about the flood zones and foundation types on the lake homes along lake Oconee in Madison and Eatonton Georgia. What about flood insurance options?

There are two flood insurance options available in the Madison and Eatonton Georgia area. You have the National Flood Insurance Program and you have private flood insurance.

The National Program is the most common program that most people know about. This program is administered by the federal government. They offer coverages up to $250,000 on the building and a $100,000 on contents for residential properties. This program is generally the more expensive option in the special flood hazard areas.

Private flood insurance on the other hand offers some pricing and coverage advantages. Let's say that home you are building is a million dollar home then with a private flood insurance policy you maybe able to get up to a million dollars on the building. On contents you can get more than the $100,000 as well but normally not until the property is walled and roofed.

As you can see there can be a lot of surprises when building a home in a flood zone in the Lake Oconee area. You have to think about where on the lot you want your home, what flood zone it will be placed in, and what the foundation type you want it to be? These things could all have a big impact on the resale value of the home.

So if you are building a home in the Lake Oconee area or any other area and have questions about flood insurance then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation so we are here to help you understand your flood risk, your flood insurance, and helping you mitigate your property to keep your flood premiums low.

 

 

 

We all know how it feels to be pulled in 10 different directions and to wear 10 different hats. Have you ever thought that maybe wearing all those hats is holding you back from wearing the best hat?

The insurance industry can be a demanding industry especially as an agency owner. You have responsibilities for payroll, marketing, sales, carrier relationships, and product education. Trust me after being an agency owner for almost 5 years I have struggled with all of this.

Young businessman juggling with business items against urban scene

Educating yourself on 20 different insurance products can be demanding and stop you from being truly great on certain products. After 10 years in the property and casualty industry we discovered that being good at 30 things was stopping us from being great at 3 things. These three things are

  1. Flood insurance
  2. Flood education
  3. Flood mitigation

So in 2020 we made the tough decision to only focus on those things we came to this decision for a few reasons.

  1. Educational background
  2. Customer experience
  3. Customer service
  4. Passion
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Our educational background is in emergency management with a focus in hazard and flood mitigation. Our goal has been to use this educational background to create unique customer experience where we almost have flood questions answered before they were asked by using videos, blogs, and podcast as a knowledge based system.

 

In reviewing this we also discovered if we continued to try to do everything for everyone it was going to create bad customer service and we could not provide the service to everyone for what they deserved.

The last thing we looked at was our passion to create hope in peoples lives through flood education.

If you caught our recent blog on learning disabilities then you would know the passion we have for the flood insurance industry and the passion we have to help people. One reason is the horrible customer experience we had about 10 years ago on a flood transaction.

I went to buy a house in Monroe Georgia on Stewart Lake Road. It was the perfect house sitting on about 2 acres. We got about 2 weeks before closing and the lender discovered that the property was in a special flood hazard area. The realtor said yes the previous 4 contracts fell through because of it. The lender informs me the flood insurance will be $3000 a year and it will make the house out of our budget.

Have you ever had to tell your spouse that they are not going to be getting their dream home?

It feels like a punch in the gut.

I couldn't accept no as an answer without further research. So it was off to the Walton county courthouse to do some research. I discovered the home was built in 1982 and we were able to show that the home was built within flood plain management guidelines at the time. As a result the flood premium was $350 not $3000.

So I took this updated information to the mortgage company and the realtor, they were both shocked.

They said how did you do that?

I explained to them what my educational background was in and some laws I understood that some did not. The realtor mentioned they could have sold this property for about 20% more and in half the time.

When this happened I told myself I never want a buyer, realtor, or mortgage company to have that kind of experience again.

You see outside of coastal areas most insurance agents try to avoid flood insurance. One reason is it can be very detailed with constant changes and the other reason is might not come up that often.

So while everyone else was running from it we wanted to run to it, so everyone could have their flood insurance questions answered.

In 2019 we did 365 flood education videos in 365 days, 150 flood blogs in 150 days, and a 100 flood podcast in 100 days.

We traveled the country creating this content and speaking with flood victims. The one common question that always came up was I wish I knew flood insurance was available or my insurance agent told me flood insurance was not available in my area.

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After spending the year doing this we discovered the need for constant flood education, making sure everyone was aware of the flood insurance options, and how to mitigate their property against flood risk.

We knew this would mean addressing every single flood issue across the country and studying the FEMA manual at least an hour a day. However in order to do this our time could not be spent on other insurance products.

In order for this mission to be successful we had to know every single thing about flood education and flood insurance.

So in 2020 we decided to stop offering those other insurance products at The Flood Insurance Guru. Now don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with an insurance agent that offers all these different products. Its great to be a one stop shop but we knew it wouldn't work with for us with flood being so confusing.

Dear Future, Im Ready... written on desert road

When does flood insurance pay out?

When can you cancel your flood insurance?

What are the flood insurance options?

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There are 500 more questions that could be asked and answered differently based on the scenario. It's important that people know the answer to these questions before they lose everything or are facing foreclosure because their flood insurance has skyrocketed.

So if you are looking for auto or home insurance then we aren't a good fit for you, but we can put you in touch with someone who is right for you.

If you are looking for flood insurance, flood education, or flood mitigation then I promise that no one will give you more free resources to understand these things then we will.

So if you have questions about anything flood related then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page Flood Insurance Guru. You can also tune into our daily flood podcast.

 

Contact Us

 

 

This blog has been in the works for almost 39 years. I have sat down to write it many times but honestly could never get through it. I tried to put it into a video and a podcast but starting crying each time.

I always said that one day I would write a book and tell my story. However good friends and industry thought leaders like Jason Cass of Agency Intelligence have really motivated me to tell this story now.

You may ask why now?

I want you to know the real me and how a pair of educators and a learning disability created The Flood Insurance Guru many years ago. If you are looking for tips on flood insurance then this blog might be a disappointment to you.

However if you want to learn why we have the passion to help people with flood insurance and flood education across the country then I think this will be the blog for you.

If you want to learn about the adversity we faced in getting here and how we used that adversity to build a national brand in less than 12 months then this blog might be for you.

Enough of that, let's talk about growing up with a learning disability. At the age of 6 I was diagnosed with A.D.D. and A.D.H.D, you know these days it seems everybody was diagnosed with this disorder. However it was a different story 30 years ago.

Anybody that has a learning disability knows that they generally don't fit in that same box as everyone else. This can be frustrating to a kid and many kids act out because of it. Some people say "man that kid is a really bad kid" I know because they said that about me. However not fitting in that box can cause behavior problems because at the young age of 6 many children just don't know how to communicate.

When I was diagnosed I was in Ms. Zeiglers 1st grade class at Martinez elementary school in Augusta Georgia. I had passed first grade and it was time for me to move on to Mrs. Stencil's 2nd grade class.

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However the teachers and my parents both could tell I wasn't ready. You see being diagnosed in the middle of the year came with it alot of adjustments. The medications had to be balanced properly, and there was alot of them. I had an average of 3 visits to the nurse everyday just to take my medications.  Then there was learning that I didn't learn the way every other kid did.

My parents had to make a very difficult decision.

Do we hold him back or let him move forward. Everyone could tell if I moved forward that I would be even further behind. So I would repeat the 1st grade again in the same class. Mrs. Zeigler was absolutely wonderful in working with me and my parents to get me ready for my next steps. I had anger towards my parents for this for many years. Why would you put a child through this punishment? It wasn't until 15 years later that I appreciated what they had done so many years before.

Back to the second year of 1st grade. That school year I would face some of my toughest battles. You don't know what adversity is until you walk down the halls with your first grade class while the other kids in the hall call you stupid because you were still in the same grade. Facing that everyday will put a mental strain on anyone, and make them want to punch a wall.

At this point my parents realized it was really going to be an up hill battle with me each step of the way. So my mom who was a school teacher before having kids knew I was really going to be a full time job. So my dad who was a physicist would work full time and my mom would take care of the family.

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My parents worked very hard to get me the help I needed and the resources we have today weren't available in 1988. I remember as soon as I got done with school it was off to tutoring 2 days a week just to try to keep up and then it was psychiatrist meetings.

By the age of 12 I had seen more than 10 different psychiatrists and I was taking close to a 100 mg of ritalin a day. All the doctors said the same thing your son is just going to live a different life. However my parents refused to accept this, especially my mom.

As I mentioned part of this story is about two educators well my mom Beth Greene is that first educator. You see my mom would not accept failure as an option. Both my parents beat into my head everyday that I had to work three times as hard as everyone else just to be on the same level. So if it took someone 2 hours to complete a task it might take me 6 hours.

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My parents tried to get me into sports and activities and honestly I was not very good, actually I was awful. I remember the highlight of basketball as a kid was scoring one basket a year. When I did that I knew I had accomplished something.

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In 1991 my family relocated to Birmingham Alabama I thought great these kids don't know that I am a year behind. This could be a great start, but as I mentioned before one of the downsides of having a learning disability is acting out with frustration and behavior issues.

Kids in the school soon realized that I was different and started to separate me from everyone else. I remember eating lunch by myself all the way through middle school.

Being called stupid because I had to leave my class to go to special classes. Teachers tried to be very accommodating by allowing me not to be timed on test and even take it in another room.

However class mates just accused me of being so stupid I had to cheat and it wasn't fair. My mom fought for me every step of the way in IEP meetings twice a year with school staff to set up a plan.

I was part of many of these meetings. I remember in the 7th grade that Mrs. Breckenridge said Mrs. Greene I think you need to accept that your child needs to be in a special school. I remember my mom standing up not in anger but with confidence.

She said my son doesn't need a different school he just needs people who want to see him succeed outside the box. She said you wait one day my son is going to change the world and I hope you are all here to see it.

As I entered high school I expected the same result. I didn't have a lot of friends and was always treated different because of my learning disability.

I even joined the football team but like I mentioned I wasn't very good at sports. I suffered a football injury without even stepping on the field. I some how tripped in the spirit line before the game and broke my wrist. This was about the same time that second educator entered my life. I met Kathy Burbage my freshman year of high school while attending Chelsea high school. She was a special skills teacher, what I didn't know is how she would change my life over the next 20 years.

Like my Mom and Dad, Mrs. Burbage would not let me fail. When my parents weren't at school she was there to be my advocate. I remember most of the teachers in high school telling me and my parents that I should consider some kind of trade because college just wasn't for me.

The next fours Kathy Burbage would change my life forever. As I mentioned my Dad was a physicist so math and science was a breeze. I mean when we got in trouble as kids we had to do word problems in our head. If you brought a calculator into the house then you knew you were going to be in trouble. As great as I was at Math and Science, English was not my subject.

When I was in the 7th grade I was put into a special needs class. This class included kids in a wheel chair, kids with down syndrome, and kids like myself that had a learning disability. We were pulled from the regular class to stop the other kids from falling behind.

I would not receive another true English course in K-12. So spring 2000 was approaching and it was time for me to look at college. While the other teachers kind of laughed under their breathe Mrs. Burbage helped get me ready to take the ACT.

You don't know intimidation until you try to take a college English test when you haven't had English in 6 years. As I mentioned Math and Science was a breeze. I finally got my test scores back and I had scored a 15. The average person probably scores a 21 on the ACT. A 15 was good enough for conditional college acceptance to Jacksonville State University, also called JSU. You see I just needed them to let me in to show them what I could do.

I enrolled at JSU in the fall of 2000. A 19 year old kid still trying to figure out his learning disability, hoping to make friends, and now trying to survive living on his own for the first time.

Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, right?

My freshman year I really struggled with non completes. The professors started to question if I should be there. Remember those two educators I told you about?

Well they helped me enroll in some special need classes at JSU. These classes helped you understand different learning styles. As I mentioned my freshman year was rough and my second year wasn't much better.

I finished my second year of college with a 1.9 GPA and had failed freshman English for the 5th time. I remember coming home and handing my grades to my parents. My dad said if you fail another class you are coming home. I don't blame him if it was me I probably would have pulled the plug sooner. My mom did what mom's do she comforted me and said we will figure it out.

I entered my 3rd year of college a few months later. I spent most of the summer learning about learning styles. That fall it was onto freshman English one more time. It was pass or go home. I remembered what I learned about learning styles during the summer. The end of the semester came and my English teacher handed me that grade of a C.

Most people would be disappointed with a C but this was a victory like I had never felt before.

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I could finally move on to my major classes which honestly were a breeze for me. I graduated in 2004 with my undergraduate degree in business management. To see the smile on my mom and Kathy Burbage's face was like no other.

I took a year off before deciding to return for my masters degree. Most said masters ha!

You were lucky to finish your undergraduate you will never graduate with a masters degree.

In 2007 I graduated as one of the top students in my class with my masters degree in emergency management with a focus in hazard and flood mitigation.

At the time I was the first person in my family to finish a masters degree. Now that would not last long as everyone else would pass me on the education level.

I remember taking a loan out and on graduation day my dad handed me a check for the loan. He said I never wanted you to believe that things in life would be handed to you.

In recently speaking with my dad he told me there are two things that he has learned from my disability

  1. Never give up on your children
  2. Never question their determination

In 2009 I started a career in insurance for Liberty Mutual. I said I will do sales for 6 months then I want to work on a national catastrophe team. Well I started working for Liberty Mutual and I wanted to do something special to give back to those that helped me and help those like my self.

I started a partners in education program in 2009 that focused on staff appreciation, student achievement, and parent involvement.

Now the student achievement part was not designed to recognize that student with an A average, but instead maybe that student with a c average that had overcome adversity.

When schools found out about this program and the learning disability I had they reached out to set up the program. We started to partner with schools in multiple states.

In 2010 and 2011 I was recognized as the top producing auto insurance sales agent for Liberty Mutual. That was never the goal or plan it just happened. Honestly I firmly believe that god continues to bless you as you bless others.

In late 2011 my mom started to get really sick and passed away in early 2012. The biggest advocate I had was gone, I never got to thank her, and she never got to see me change the world like she promised so many people.

This was a very hard time for me I talked to my mom sometimes 5 times a day and now nothing.

In 2015 I decided to start my own company Community First Agency. It would continue to focus on those things I had done for the schools for so many years. However as people started to learn what my masters degree was in they started to call us the Flood Guru.

People had flood questions all over the country that they wanted answered. In 2017 I launched The Flood Insurance Guru which would focus on flood insurance, flood education, and flood mitigation. Our goal was to bring hope to people the same way someone brought hope to me. However we wanted to do it with flood education when people felt like there was no where to turn.

In 2019 we dedicated to 365 flood education in 365 days, 150 flood blogs in 150 days, and 100 flood podcast in 100 days. Our goal was to change the world through flood education and giving people a guide.

We ended up accomplishing something that no one else in the industry had done. My mentor Ryan Hanley had done a 100 videos in a 100 days a few years back and I am so appreciative of the lessons I have learned from him. Another mentor of mine Nicholas Ayers has taught me everything there is to know about video with the Made You Look video course.

In 2018 nobody knew about us and in 2019 we had a national brand. A national brand was never the goal we just simply wanted to educate and show people the answers to their flood questions.

So thats the story of how a pair educators and a learning disability created The Flood Insurance Guru. So the next time someone tells you that can't do something maybe because you aren't smart enough or because you have a learning disability, just remember if all you see is a disability then you will miss all the opportunity.

I can't finish this blog without thanking a few people. My mom and dad for the fight they put in. My mom didn't live to see this story play out but I just see her in heaven saying I told you so to all those people. Honestly I am not sure what she saw in me.

Maybe its a moms heart or intuition but I'm glad she did.

If it wasn't for her I probably would have given up a long time ago. Kathy Burbage its been more than 20 years since you entered my life and I thank God everyday that you did because this is your story of you seeing something in people that no one else did. I hope your children see how you have changed the lives of so many people with learning disabilities.

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So the next time you think of flood insurance or flood education maybe you will think of our story, maybe you will think there is hope, or maybe think how you could change the lives of someone through education.

If you want to learn more about our story, flood insurance, or flood education then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

 

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Online real estate sites like Zillow and Realtor.com have had a major impact on the real estate market over the last 5 years. You can almost find out instantly what your house will be sold for, however there are some misleading things on these sites. Sometimes the square footage might be wrong, the year built, or even the foundation type.

As you can imagine these things could have a big impact on what you could sell your house for in Huntsville Alabama. Having the lowest home inventory in 20 years can also magnify this issue.

However these things could be having an even bigger impact on your flood insurance premiums.

Everybody uses these sites now from realtors to home buyers to insurance agents. It makes it very easy to get the information you need to do a home insurance quote or a flood insurance quote if you are an insurance agent.

You might even be a potential buyer using this information to get your flood insurance quote.

STOP right there that is the wrong way!

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As we mentioned before these sites are not always 100% accurate. For example we were just reviewing a listing in Huntsville Alabama for potential home buyer where the property was in a special flood hazard area. We were reviewing everything on the home and noticed when it comes to flood insurance some things were different.

  1. Foundation type
  2. Year built
  3. Update details
  4. Estimated value

You see the North Alabama MLS and the online sites had the home listed with a basement, but when we reviewed it there was not a single side of the property that was underground. FEMA's definition of a basement is a property that has all sides of the home below grade.

When it comes to flood insurance this home was actually considered to be on a slab. Had this home been quoted with a basement it could have had some major exclusions for coverages on the first level as well as significantly higher flood premiums.

Now lets use the other example that confuses alot of people and that is when its listed as a basement when its really a crawlspace.

This mistake could have a significant difference on flood premiums. Sometimes the mistake is not caught for a few years. If you have a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program they normally request pictures which can prevent this from happening. However if its a private flood insurance policy they may not request these documents and there is no getting this flood insurance premium back from previous years.

So how can updated details impact the property?

So say the site says the home was built in 1950 which makes it a pre firm structure but it was updated in 2004. It list many of the things that were updated but what it doesn't tell you is the home was torn down to the foundation and redone.

As a result FEMA no longer considers this a pre firm structure but instead it is a substantially improved structure. As a result the year built is considered to be 2004. Since the home is in a special flood hazard area an elevation certificate would be required if you decided to do a policy with the National Flood Insurance Program. The rating system could also be completely different since it is no longer a Pre Firm structure.

Estimated value might be one of the most common things that is off with these sites. Now it's always recommended that you reach out to a realtor so you can get accurate values of the market value of the home. Using the estimated value on these sites as an insurance agent can be very dangerous. Whether it is flood insurance or something else this could easily underinsure a property owner. Then what happens is when a claim occurs they may not get the coverage need to replace or repair the home.

This is one major complaint that property owners had in east Alabama on Weiss lake and Lake Logan Martin after the 2019 flooding event.

Many of these property owners either had the loan amount listed on the flood insurance or what they thought the homes value should be. The problem with alot of these sites is they use market value on these amounts and for flood insurance replacement cost is used.

So whats the difference?

Market value is the value someone thinks they could sell their home for.

Replacement cost is what it would actually take to rebuild the home.

As you can imagine when its a bad real estate market there could be a huge difference in these amounts.

So let's say that you bought that house on Lake Logan Martin in 2010 not long after the market crash. You got a great deal on it and got a great rate on the flood insurance.

It might not be as a good of a deal as you think. You might want to pull out that flood insurance policy in see what amount of coverage is listed on there.

I imagine you only have $75,000- $100,000 in coverage when you should have $150,000-$175,000 in coverage. You might not have that much coverage we recently had a client come to us that only had $85,000 in coverage on a 3000 square foot house. As you can imagine this $85,000 in coverage would not have gone very far on a 3000 square foot house.

So we have addressed some issues when using these online real estate sites. Remember while these tools can be great for getting information, you always want to verify this information with a licensed realtor.

So if you have questions about making sure your flood insurance policy is accurate or learning more about what flood insurance options in Huntsville Alabama are available then visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page. If you are on the run then check out our daily podcast here.

 

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When people hear the words flood or flood insurance you would think you just got a letter from the IRS. It's one of those things that nobody wants to talk about. Its the same story for insurance agents across the country. It's the one product that many agents try to avoid because of the complexity of it, the time it takes, and the confusion of the National Flood Insurance Program.

So today we want to discuss 5 things you need to know about flood insurance as an insurance agent. Once we get through these things today we hope that you have learned something and can better serve your clients.

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So lets look at these 5 areas of flood insurance

  1. Write Your Own Carriers and NFIP Direct
  2. Understanding Flood Zones
  3. What is a Policy Transfer
  4. Flood Insurance Options
  5. NFIP Cancellation Process

 

WRITE YOUR OWN CARRIERS AND NFIP DIRECT

So lets briefly discuss write your own carriers and NFIP Direct. If you have listened to our flood podcast, read some of our flood blogs, or seen our flood education videos then you saw where we briefly discussed the differences of these. However lets give you a brief description. The difference in these two is going directly to FEMA for your flood insurance quotes and servicing compared to going to a 3rd party. In many situations most people would try to avoid a 3rd party but in these situation the 3rd parties called write your own carriers can actually make the servicing of flood insurance much easier especially during the claims process.

As an agent its also important to know that working with the 3rd party might also keep more money in your pocket when it comes to commissions.

So now that we pretty much know the difference in these two options let's get an understanding of flood zones.

 

FLOOD ZONES

This might be one of the hardest things people have when it comes to flood insurance, even for insurance agents.

When is flood insurance required?

What does the flood zone mean?

Well let's answer those questions for you. Now there are many different types of flood zones but we want to discuss the main zones which are flood zone X, A, AE, V, and VE.

Flood zone X is going to be the minimal risk flood zone where flood insurance is not required. While it is not required roughly 30% of flooding still occurs in this zone. This particular flood zone also usually offers the best rates because it is considered low risk. Don't let the low risk designation fool you though this is what happened to so many flood victims of Houston Texas, Nebraska City Nebraska, Tulsa Oklahoma, and Florence Alabama.

This victims were told that since flood insurance was not required that it was not needed. As you can imagine they were pretty upset after losing everything in the 2019 floods.

Let's look at the next flood zone which is flood zone A. Flood zone A which is considered to be the special flood hazard area but normally doesn't have a base flood elevation. Because this is a special flood hazard area or part of the 100 year flood plain flood insurance is required if there is a mortgage on the property or an additional interest.

 

Flood zone AE which is considered to be the special flood hazard area as well but has a base flood elevation. This means you can get a better accuracy of the true flood risk.

Flood zone V or VE are considered costal flood zones. These are areas that are usually near a coastline whether it be a lake or ocean. These properties are also considered part of the special flood hazard area which means like the other zones that flood insurance is required.

So now that we some what have an understanding of the flood zones. What if someone has a flood policy on one of these zones that no longer exists. For example the flood zone has been changed from flood zone X to A or AE. This is what is called a grandfathered policy.

 

POLICY TRANSFERS

This a great scenario where policy transfers come into play this is where the policy is transferred from the seller to the buyer to protect the flood insurance rate and keep the policy grandfathered. This tops the flood zone from changing on the policy as long as there has not been a gap in coverage.

Policy transfers are normally only available through the National Flood Insurance Program.

So are other flood insurance options available for your clients?

Yes generally across the United States there are two flood insurance options available.

We have briefly discussed the first option which is the National Flood Insurance Program but what about the 2nd option which is private flood insurance.

There are some big differences in these two options and both options are not available to everyone.

The National Flood Insurance Program is available to anyone as long as that community is a participating community.

So what is a participating community?

 

These are communities that have agreed to meet a higher standard of flood plain management and follow strict guidelines. By doing so it makes them a participating community this also sets the community up for possible disaster assistance help after a flood.

So if a community does not participate can you still get flood insurance?

Yes there are still options available in some of these communities which brings us to the other option for flood insurance which is private flood insurance.

So what is private flood insurance?

 

PRIVATE FLOOD INSURANCE

Private flood insurance is just like it sounds it's backed by private flood insurance companies while the NFIP is backed by FEMA.

Generally private flood insurance can offer a lot more coverage than the NFIP and many times do it with a 40% savings. One reason is different technologies are used to determine rates. NFIP uses their own flood maps which is based on a parcel but private flood insurance can take a deeper look at historical flooding in an area and the elevation of a property.

Most private flood insurance is considered to be non admitted carriers. As an insurance agent it's important that you understand the difference between non admitted and admitted carriers.

So do your clients qualify for private flood insurance?

It could depend on two things claim history on a property and the type of loan on the property.

Many private insurance companies will not do a flood policy if a property has ever flooded. Some companies only look back 5 years and others limit it to one claim on the property.

So what does the loan type have to do with qualifying?

Well all loan types except for FHA loans currently accept private flood insurance as long as it reads this statement. This policy meets the definition of private flood insurance contained in 42 U.S.C. 4012a(b)(7) and the corresponding regulation.

 

ADMITTED and NON ADMITTED CARRIERS

So what is the difference?

An admitted insurance company is backed by the state, which means:

  • The insurance company must comply with all state regulations regarding insurance, which are established and overseen by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • If the insurance company fails financially, the state will step in to make payments on claims as necessary.

A non-admitted insurance company isn’t approved by the state, which means:

  • The insurance company does not necessarily comply with state insurance regulations.
  • If the insurance company becomes insolvent, there is no guarantee that claims will be paid, even if the case is active at the time of the bankruptcy or financial failure.
  • If policyholders think their case was handled improperly, they can’t appeal to the state insurance department.

When comparing these two options you want to pay attention to the ratings of these companies typically the better rating the better opportunity for these companies to stay in business. We normally do not recommend working with anyone that does not have an A rating.

Now there are very few admitted private flood insurance companies out there. However if you are in areas like Florida or New Jersey you have to quote first through these admitted carriers before going to the non admitted or surplus market.

It's important to understand your state guidelines on using surplus or non admitted carriers. Check out your states insurance website for guidance on this.

 

CANCELLATION PROCESS

Let's look at the 5th thing that an insurance agent should know about flood insurance and that is the cancellation process. Let's look at the private flood insurance process first.

Private flood insurance follows similar guidelines as the National Flood Insurance Program. Now if you don't have a mortgage you can cancel at anytime but you want to pay very close attention to the minimum premium earned policy.

For example say the minimum earned premium is 50% this means you won't be getting any more than that back. So if you decide to cancel the policy 2 months in you could be out alot of money. You also want to see which fees are excluded when a policy is refunded. Normally any kind of surplus or policy fees are fully earned and not refundable.

So what if you have a mortgage? Can you cancel at anytime?

No you can only cancel this policy if your mortgage company will allow you to. Generally the private flood insurance company requires a signed cancellation letter and a letter from the bank stating it is ok to cancel the policy.

Now let's look at the National Flood Insurance Program cancellation process. This can be confusing and its why we recently do a video series on the 26 cancellation reasons. You can find the podcast that discusses those reasons here.

 

Let's look at cancellation reason 26 which is on the one that normally causes all the confusion. We probably get at least one question about this cancellation process everyday. This cancellation reason discusses midterm cancellation when a duplicate policy is in place outside the National Flood Insurance Program.

In 2018 FEMA released a bulletin stating that they would allow midterm cancellations for property owners to move to the private market if their bank allowed it.

However a few months later they reversed this decision. So as of 2020 the only way this policy can be cancelled for duplicate coverage is at renewal.

There are a few things you will need to make sure this policy gets cancelled properly. You will need a letter from your bank stating that they will accept private flood insurance and you will need a signed cancellation letter from the agent and client.

Here is where alot of people get in trouble when doing this they don't account for the waiting period with private flood insurance.

If its a 5 day or 15 day wait period you want to make sure that the new private policy is issued that many days before the renewal date. If you make the policy effective on the date of renewal or even one day later it could cause FEMA not to cancel the flood insurance policy for another year.

 

So we have discussed 5 things you should know about flood insurance as an insurance agent. Maybe you want to get a better understanding about other things on flood insurance or see how we can help your clients get their flood zone changed? Then make sure to visit our website you can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page Flood Insurance Guru.

 

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When local residents of Covington GA think about flooding their home town normally doesn't come to mind. What normally comes to mind are areas like Jackson Lake or Lake Oconee where they may have a lake house.

However flooding issues in Covington Georgia during winter and spring months is starting to change how people look at flooding in Covington Georgia.

Before we can look at the flooding that has occurred we need to know the flood zones in the area.

Like most areas outside the coast Covington Georgia has three main flood zones.

  1. Flood zone X
  2. Flood zone A
  3. Flood zone AE

Flood zone X is the non mandatory flood zone where flood insurance is not required. The majority of Covington GA and Newton county fall within this area.

 

Flood zone A which is considered to be the special flood hazard area but normally doesn't have a base flood elevation includes areas like West Clark Street and Bob Williams Parkway.

 

Flood zone AE which is considered to be the special flood hazard area as well but has a base flood elevation includes areas like Main Street in Porterdale along the Yellow River. This also includes what is known as the Lofts.

So now that we know the three main flood zones for Covington and Newton county Georgia. Let's look at when flooding is likely to occur in the area.

You generally have two times a year where flooding becomes an issue but they normally occur for different reasons. In the winter months you normally have frontal systems that stall out for several days dropping a lot of rain over those days. Then in the spring you have flash flooding that occurs normally from a lot of rainfall from severe thunderstorms.

The flooding that is occurring right now in Covington Georgia is a direct result of a frontal system stalling out dropping several inches over the course of a few days.

However what is magnifying this problem is December was extremely wet keeping water tables and rivers like the Yellow River full.

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As a result this additional rainfall simply has no where to go.

An area that has seen this happen time and time again is the Riverside RV park along the Yellow River.

riverside

In December 2015 Covington Georgia saw significant flooding along highway 278 as a result of the same kind of system.

So when these systems come through Covington Georgia what can you do to protect yourself?

Well the first step is knowing your flood zone. Know if you live in a special flood hazard area and the history of flooding in that area.

The next thing is to always carry flood insurance, but i thought that I could only get flood insurance if it was required by my bank?

This is one of the biggest myths about flood insurance. It's also one of the things that flood victims in Houston Texas, Nebraska City Nebraska, and Tulsa Oklahoma knew before losing everything to a flood in 2019.

So what are the flood insurance options in Covington Georgia?

It's important to understand that all parts of Newton county participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. So this means that NFIP and private flood insurance are available.

So who qualifies for what?

Since this is a participating community everyone qualifies for the National Flood Insurance Program.You really have 7 NFIP communities in the Covington area.

  1. Newton county
  2. City of Porterdale
  3. City of Mansfield
  4. City of Oxford
  5. City of Covington
  6. City of Newborn
  7. City of Social Circle

Areas like Riverside RV park that received repeated flooding may have this as their only option.

Generally one of the things that can disqualify you for private flood insurance in Covington Georgia are claims. Some carriers only care if there have been claims within the last 5 years and others will disqualify you if there has ever been a claim on the property.

Something else thats important to know is that you may only qualify for private flood insurance if you have a non FHA loan. FHA is the only loan type in Covington GA that requires all flood insurance to go through the National Flood Insurance Program.

So what about coverages?

There can be a big difference in coverages between the National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurance. One difference is the National Flood Insurance Program maxes residential building coverage out at $250,000 while private flood can go into the millions.

It's important to know that since NFIP maxes residential coverage out at $250,000 that banks can not currently require more coverage than that per structure.

So what about protecting your belongings? Thats one of the biggest things we hear from flood victims everyday. They say what cost me so much money was replacing my belongings.

The National Flood Insurance Program maxes personal belongings coverage out at $100,000 while private flood insurance generally will offer up to $500,000 in most situations.

So we have discussed what flood insurance options are available in Covington Georgia? The real question everybody wants to know is how long do i have to wait.

It's not uncommon for people to wait until its flooding to try to obtain flood insurance. However most people are unaware of the different wait periods. There is really only one situation where there is no wait period for flood insurance and that is when it is for a loan closing.

Outside of this the National Flood Insurance Program has a standard 30 day wait period. Private flood insurance companies generally have a wait period that ranges from 5 to 15 days.

So it's important to understand that if you wait until its flooding in Covington Georgia or other areas of newton county to get flood insurance then it might be too late.

We mentioned what else you can do to prepare earlier. One thing is understanding your flood insurance policy. You may have loss avoidance built into your policy.

This helps reimburse up to a $1000 for preventative measures like putting sand bags around your property or moving belongings to higher ground.

So maybe you have more questions about other flood prone areas in Covington Georgia or Newton county? Maybe you want to see what flood insurance options are available to you? Then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

 

 

 

Clogged Drains, Interstates, and homes, what in the world do these things have in common?

Well glad you asked they are all connected by FLOODING!

Boat over Marajo Canal in Belem do Para, Brazil

Flooding has occurred in 2019 and 2020 on interstates and communities as a result of clogged drains. The flooding in these communities has started to have a major impact on property owners. We want to discuss two particular scenarios and how the flooding could have been prevented.

Let's look at drainage issues that have occurred in Germantown Tennessee, Toledo Ohio, Augusta Georgia, and Houston Texas.

Then let's review how interstate flooding is occurring and the impact it is having on communities.

The first area we want to look at is Germantown Tennessee. This area suffered severe flooding in June 2019 the way water came rushing in and rushing out raised alot of questions. According to WMC 5 action News water went down so rapidly that it was like a stopper had been pulled out of a tub.

So what exactly caused the flooding in this part of Germantown?

It was a combination of heavy rainfall and drainage systems. More than 10 inches of rain was received which caused flash flooding across the area and it seems that the drainage infrastructure of the area created an even larger disaster.

Let's get one thing straight 10 inches of rain within a short amount of time could overwhelm any system. However the concern here that residents have is they have received this amount of rainfall in the past with no flash flooding issues. They had complained about drainage issues up until the week before the flooding occurred. The fact that the water left the home almost as fast as it entered the home clearly showed something failed with the drainage systems.

The problem with many drainage systems is they were built 50-60 years ago and they simply aren't built to carry that amount of water away that fast.

This is an issue that Augusta Georgia faced in 2019 when it faced drainage problems from flooding. According to WRDW.com basically the older city areas we do have where it takes time for the system to carry the water because it's an older system.So whether it was clogged drains or simply the system being overwhelmed, what is clear is the importance of keeping these drains clear and up to date.

Another stress that is put on drainage systems is when it's time for the water to leave. You have areas like Houston Texas that seem to face this issue on a regular basis. According to The Atlantic when this water hits areas like sidewalks and parking lots you no longer control where the water goes. So this water ends up where the grade takes it which normally is low lying areas creating more of an issue for drainage systems to deal with, so it can be a design problem for many areas.

As Toledo Ohio has shown us with their historic flooding from drainage issues that something has to be done.

What can be done?

Most people think that it takes 10 inches of rain like what occurred in Germantown but many of the flood issues in Toledo have come from less than 2 inches of rain within a short amount of time.

Thankfully areas like Toledo are looking at measures to reduce the impact that drainage systems can have on flooding. Some of these measures include decreasing combined sewer and stormwater overflows

Now let's look at how these clogged drains can impact the transportation infrastructure of a major city.

Round storm drain, off center, surrounded by garden stones

Flooding on interstates has become a bigger problem over the years. You had interstates completely submerged during flooding in Macon Georgia in the 90's. It was the first time where every interstate system going into a city was cutoff by water.

Downtowntown Atlanta, Georgia Skyline.

You have the constant drainage issues that occur in Houston after heavy rains. Then there is I-285 in Atlanta Georgia being shut down multiple times in 2020 as a result of flooding.

So whats the issue here?

Are the drainage systems or clogged drains to blame here?

Maybe and Maybe not.

In the situation with Atlanta each time the interstate has been closed it was a result of clogged drains. The city is working on resolutions to make sure this doesn't happen.

However in the situation with Macon Georgia and Houston Texas there simply was so much water that there simply wasn't anywhere for it to go. Houston has experienced this at least twice in the last 5 years with hurricane Harvey and tropical storm Imelda both ranking as some of the wettest storms in history.

So what can be done to make outcomes like this do not occur again?

Row of concrete conduits on construction site

The constant development of new drainage systems in major metropolitan areas is a first step however as you can imagine these are not cheap or short processes. It takes many years of studying the data to see the impacts financially and environmentally.

So we have looked at drainage systems and clogged drains and the impacts they are having on communities and transportation. However what about your own home?

Are you responsible for the drainage issues on your property or is it a community issue?

It kind of falls on both parties to help mitigate the risk of flooding in these areas. Where you start to see an issue in many situations is when new development or construction starts to take place in your area. It is up to the local community to help hold developers responsible for the possible flooding issues they maybe creating. When it comes to the day to day drainage systems issues on your local property a few steps can go along way.

Like keeping your gutters clear of debris and leaves the same thing can be said for stormwater drains on your property. When these drains are not properly managed they can easily redirect water where it should not be going.

So maybe you have further questions about drainage issues on your property and who is responsible? Maybe you want to make sure your are properly protected with flood insurance? Then make sure to visit our website to get more information on these things. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do daily flood education videos or even check out our podcast.

 

When you think of coastal flooding what comes to mind?

You are probably thinking about a million dollar beach house right on the water some where in Florida being washed away.

This is the picture that the media has painted for most flood disasters. So its no surprise that when you mention coastal flooding and lake flooding on the great lakes together people look at you like you are crazy.

One explanation for these is everybody associates coastal flooding with oceans and beaches. It brings up the decades long debate on do places like the great lakes really have beaches or a coastline?

perfect sky and water of indian ocean

Lets look at what a coastline and a beach are defined as, first off according to Webster dictionary a coastline is a line that forms the boundary between the land and the ocean or a lake.

According to Websters dictionary a beach is a shore of a body of water covered by sand.

young people group have fun and play beach volleyball at sunny summer day

Now that we understand what a coastline and a beach are it should settle the great debate if the great lakes have a coastline or beach.

So lets take a look at what is changing the landscape of the great lakes and possibly setting up the greatest coastal flooding disaster in 2020.

The great lakes area as well as the rest of the United States had one of the wettest years on record in 2019. Flooding occurred in areas that had not this type of flooding in decades.

End of a public beach along Lake Michigan

You had areas like Nebraska city that were flooded as a result of spring storms and snowmelt.

The state of Iowa had more than $2 billion in flood damage in 2019 and the city of Tulsa was shut down for weeks with flooding on the Arkansas river.

So what about the great lakes area how was it impacted by all this rain fall?

Well there are areas like Marquette, Houghton Lake, and Muskegon that were more than 6 inches above their normal rainfall average. This excessive rainfall continued all the way until the end of the year putting areas like Lake Michigan more than 6 feet higher than its normal average.

The problem is with this amount of rainfall is the water in the ground has nowhere to go and the streams and rivers that it normally runs off to are still full.

An already wet January in areas like eastern Michigan and the city of Chicago have shown us the potential disaster that is setting up for 2020.

Boaters view of Chicago skyline in summer

On Jan 11 2020 Chicago saw waves more than 20 feet high flooding areas like Southern Shores and Rogers Park. Streets crumbled from the pressure of the flood water, cars were washed away and water started to enter homes.

The potential flooding disaster for the great lakes area is setting up for something similar that we saw on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in 2019.

These areas had a very wet 2019 it was one storm after another combined with record snow pack areas. You had areas like Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota that seemed to have flood warnings for 6 months.

Something else that started to occur in 2019 in some of these great lakes area was coastal erosion. Much of these areas use sand dunes to protect against coastal flooding and with this erosion that protection is gone.

Tidal channel along sandy beach after sunrise on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

As 2020 gets wetter and wetter areas along the great lakes like Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland have a greater risk for this coastal and lake flooding.

So what can be done to help prevent or at least minimize this flooding?

Well keeping things like your gutters cleaned out and making sure run off spouts go away from the property are just a few tips.

Man cleaning the gutter from autumn leaves

If you have flood insurance check your policy for loss avoidance. Loss avoidance will reimburse up to a $1000 for preventative measures like filling sand bags and moving property to higher ground.

Something else thats important to understand is the different risk each of the flood zones brings with it. While special flood hazard areas also known as flood zone A or AE do have a greater risk, its important to understand that even if you are not in a mandatory flood zone does not mean your property will not flood.

The outdated flood mapping process has given many people sense of false security. Just ask the 80% of flood victims in Houston during Hurricane Harvey that were told they did not need flood insurance or the many people along the Arkansas river that lost everything in 2019.

Many of these people were also told that flood insurance was not available. If you live in the great lakes area its important to understand that as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program then flood insurance is available for you.

So what if your community does not participate?

Well there might still be flood insurance options available. Lets discuss what two flood insurance options are available in the great lakes area and the Chicago area.

There is the National Flood Insurance Program and then there is the private flood insurance market.

So who qualifies for what?

As mentioned before as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program then you have access to flood insurance through that program. You may also have access to private flood insurance which could provide more coverage at up to 40% less on price.

So do you qualify for private flood insurance in areas like Chicago, Cleveland, or even Toledo?

Well it depends if you have a loan on the property or if there have been flood claims on the property in the past. If you have an FHA loan then the only option currently available for you is the National Flood Insurance Program, you can get a quote by clicking here. If you have another loan type then you have access to the private flood insurance market, you can get a quote by clicking here.

So what about flood insurance claims on the property?

Well some private flood insurance companies will automatically disqualify you if there has ever been a flood claim on the property. Others only look back 5 years on flood insurance claims. Its important when getting a flood insurance quote that you ask these questions. If a claim occurs it could be declined if it is discovered that the property had claims.

So if you want to learn more about how to prevent flooding in the great lakes area then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page. You can also tune into our podcast to learn more about mitigating your property against flooding.

 

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So you have been in the business as a realtor for a few years. You have just listed your first home of the new year only to find out its in a special flood hazard area in Huntsville Alabama. Home inventory is already at a 20 year low in the area, so all you need is more challenges. You have never had a listing in this type of area before, so what are you suppose to do?

Well lets discuss the first steps you should take when you find this out. The first thing is verify if there is an active flood policy on the property and the next thing is to verify the flood map. Now if its an investment property or the mortgage is paid off its not uncommon for there not to be a policy.

So let's say you are on the lucky side and find out that the current property owners do have a flood policy on the property. Now you want to find out if it is a National Flood Insurance Program policy also known as a FEMA policy.

Wait I thought the only option for flood insurance in Huntsville Alabama was FEMA?

Hold that thought we will discuss flood insurance options in Huntsville and Florence Alabama a little bit later on.

So you find out it is a FEMA policy that is on the property. The first thing you want to do is reach out to the insurance agent to see if the policy is transferable.

Now it could be that the policy is through what is called a write your own carrier or NFIP Direct either way you should be able to get this answer. Now it's not uncommon for many insurance agents to know if a policy is transferrable or not.

What is a transferrable flood policy?

This is a flood insurance policy that can be transferred from one buyer to the next keeping the rate locked in and sometimes allowing the buyer to wait until renewal to make a payment.

Now if it's an investor who is selling the property and someone is buying it as a primary residence then more than likely the policy can't be transferred. It has to be the same type of policy that is being transferred, whether its for a primary or non primary residence.

So you have gotten your ducks in a row and you know if the policy is transferrable or not.

The second thing you want to do is verify the flood map. Why you might ask the flood policy is there so we know its required?

Well properties being in the wrong flood zone is not uncommon. So you can click here to verify where the property is located on the flood map. It could be that the actual structure is not in the special flood hazard area after all or that the map recently changed.

If the map has changed within the last 12 months it could be that the property qualifies for special newly mapped rates.

It looking at this map if you are in an area outside the coast you want to look for three different zones, zone X, A, and AE.

 

 

If the property is in zone X then flood insurance should not be required but if its in A or AE then it will be in whats considered the special flood hazard area.

Remember earlier when we mentioned we would discuss flood insurance options later? Well lets discuss those options.

The majority of people across the Huntsville Alabama area think there is only one option for flood insurance.

This simply isn't true, you have two options for flood insurance in the Huntsville, Athens, Madison, and Florence Alabama areas.

You can choose to go through the National Flood Insurance Program like many people do or you can choose to go through the private flood insurance market.

There is no wrong answer here but if decide to go through the National Flood Insurance Program you will want to be prepared for what will be needed. If the property is in this A or AE zone and the it was built after the first flood map which is normally around 1982 there is going to be some documentation that is needed.

You are going to have to provide photos of each side of the house and an elevation certificate.

What is an elevation certificate?

This a certificate that is provided by a surveyor or engineer that shows the different elevations of the home compared to the base flood elevation. This will determine how cheap or how expensive your flood insurance will be.

So what does something like this cost in the Huntsville Alabama area?

These certificates usually cost between $500-$700 you can order one by clicking here.

Now that you have an understanding of what documentation will be needed for the National Flood Insurance Program, what documentation will be needed for private flood insurance?

The good news is most private flood insurance companies do not require photos or elevation certificates. This can be a big savings right off the bat, but private flood insurance can also be up to 40% cheaper than the National Flood Insurance Program.

One reason is private flood insurance companies in Huntsville and Florence Alabama use different technology to map risk in these areas. As a result they can get more accurate ratings than the National Flood Insurance Program.

So does every property owner in Huntsville qualify for private flood insurance?

No they do not

As long as you don't have a FHA loan then your bank should allow you to take out a private flood insurance policy. If you have an FHA loan then you will be required to go through the National Flood Insurance Program.

So we have talked about what to do when you find out your listing in Huntsville or Florence Alabama is in a special flood hazard area, to verify the flood map, and what the flood insurance options are in the area.

Maybe you have more questions then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do daily flood education videos.

 

 

 

Almost everyone has heard that all flood insurance is the same and it all goes through FEMA. While technically this is not true because there is the National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurance markets.

Today we want to talk about some different ways that you can obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

There basically two ways to obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program

  1. Write Your Own companies
  2. NFIP Direct

There is no wrong way to obtain flood insurance, the only bad decision is not getting it at all. So we want to discuss the benefits of each one of these paths.

Electrical outlet reflected in floodwater in office

Let's discuss what a Write Your Own carrier is? The guidelines they must follow and a list of companies that participate?

First of a Write Your Own carrier also known as (WYO) is participating property and casualty insurance companies to write and service the standard flood policies in their own names.

It's important to remember while these carriers are writing these policies FEMA still retains the responsibility for underwriting losses. Since this is still part of the National Flood Insurance Program there are strict guidelines that must be followed.

Some of those guidelines are as follows

  1. Policy administration
  2. Claims processing
  3. Reports
  4. Operations plan
  5. Time standards
  6. Policy issuance
  7. Discontinue of policies when NFIP is not authorized
  8. Keep flood insurance funds separate from company funds
  9. The Company must investigate, adjust, settle, and defend all claims or losses arising from policies issued under this Arrangement. Payment of flood insurance claims by the Company bind FEMA, subject to appeal.
  10. Compliance with Agency Standards and Guidelines.
  11. Compliance with Appeals Process
  12. Other Flood Insurance. If the Company also offers flood insurance outside of the NFIP in any geographic area in which Program authorizes the purchase of flood insurance, the Company must:
    1. Ensure that all public communications (whether written, recorded, electronic, or other) regarding non-NFIP flood insurance lines would not lead a reasonable person to believe that the NFIP, FEMA, or the Federal Government in any way endorses, sponsors, oversees, regulates, or otherwise has any connection with the non-NFIP flood insurance line. The Company may assure compliance with this requirement by prominently including in such communications the following statement: “This insurance product is not affiliated with the National Flood Insurance Program.”
    2. Ensure that data related to this Arrangement are not used to further or support the Company's non-NFIP flood insurance lines
      Governance on Blue Puzzle on White Background.

While this is not all the guidelines you can see that NFIP has strict guidelines for participating in this program. According to FEMA this program was set up in 1983 with three goals in mind

  1. Increase the NFIP policy base and the geographic distribution of policies
  2. Improve service to NFIP policyholders through the infusion of insurance industry knowledge
  3. Provide the insurance industry with direct operating experience with flood insurance

The WYO program has come along way since 1983 its important that you know what companies participate so you are protected.

There are more than 55 different companies that participate in this program and you can find the list here.

Two women and team work in big storehouse

As you can see there can be some great benefits to this program like dealing directly with your existing insurance company for your flood insurance policy, dealing with an experienced company during the claims process, and also having a good experience when making payments or changes.

So now that we have looked at WYO let's discuss what NFIP direct is and some of its benefits?

NFIP Direct is the system that FEMA has built where agents can directly access the NFIP without going through a WYO carrier. Payments, claims processing, and policy issuance are just a few things the system does.

One of the negatives of using NFIP Direct is if someone who doesn't have flood training or experience can struggle with using it. This is one of the major benefits of using a WYO. This is also one reason why many agents who can only access NFIP Direct sell less flood insurance than those who access a WYO.

You can call it intimidation or just a headache like many agents do.

So is there any benefit for the consumer?

Business man pointing the text Customer Experience

Whether the customer decides to use a WYO or NFIP Direct then the rates and claims processing should be the same. You may just have a better experience with a WYO because of the way they communicate.

So is there a benefit to the agent?

There are usually a few benefits first of all commissions are normally higher through a WYO compared to going through NFIP Direct. There are also normally a lot more opportunities to learn the system and get the support that you need as an agent.

So whether you access WYO or NFIP Direct whats important is that you have a policy in place. According to the FEMA podcast the last 10 years have shown a steady decrease in the amount of active flood insurance policies and a steady increase in the amount of claims filed.

So if you have questions about either one of these platforms then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page. You can also tune into our daily podcast.

 

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Texas has seen its fair share of flood disasters over the last 5 years. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 devastated the city of Houston flooding many commercial properties that were told they were not in a flood zone. Then there was tropical storm Imelda in 2019 that brought almost just as much rain fall as Harvey. Commercial properties even flooded during Imelda that didn't flood during Harvey.

 

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While these two disasters could be considered two of the top flood disasters in the last 25 years is this enough reason for commercial flood insurance companies to take a one way ticket out of town?

Since Harvey private flood insurance companies have really been limiting their exposure in areas like Houston and Galveston Texas. However now we are starting to see this limitation across the state of Texas. Other flood disasters like the flooding in Oklahoma and Nebraska have put even more pressure on them as they try to manage the commercial flood risk properly.

This is one of the big differences between the National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurance companies. The National Flood Insurance Program also known as NFIP is backed by FEMA and is not built on profitability like private flood insurance companies are designed to be.

For this reason you will not see NFIP pulling out of areas after a flood or limiting policies. The NFIP was designed to provide flood insurance to property owners as long as the community participates in the NFIP.

So what about those communities in Texas that do not participate?

What flood insurance options are available for them?

These particular communities only have access to private flood insurance so when these options start to become limited it can have a major impact on these non participating communities and businesses.

So what else could be scaring away commercial private flood insurance companies in Texas? Well there are two things we want to discuss

  1. Flood maps
  2. Climate change.

Let's look at flood maps first, flood maps being updated is no short process. A flood insurance study report has to be done which can take several years to complete and then FEMA and local communities have to agree on the new maps. This is one of the major issues that occurred in Houston and Harris county Texas. When hurricane Harvey hit new flood maps had not been agreed upon and many areas that were showing low risk should have been high risk.

As a result 85% of the properties that flooded during hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance. One reason was the misbelief that they were in a low risk flood zone where it really should have been a special flood hazard area where flood insurance is required.

Another area that was the victim of flood maps was Baton Rogue Louisiana during there famous flood in 2016. Right before this flood many areas had been moved to low risk flood zones and the mandatory requirement for flood insurance had been removed.

As a result many property owners did not have flood insurance as they had just cancelled it.

These are only two scenarios but there are many more we can look at where flood maps are creating false security. You see the water is not going to knock on your door and ask to come in.

As you can imagine this inaccurate mapping process would scare any flood company. Thankfully new technology has helped private flood insurance companies get a more accurate risk on these flood prone areas. This is also one reason why so many of these low risk flood zones have better ratings with NFIP than private flood insurance companies. The private flood insurance companies can see the true risk and rate it correctly.

So what else might be running commercial flood insurance companies out of town?

Well its two words that no body wants to discuss which is climate change.

We aren't necessarily talking about global warming but instead how patterns can change for certain areas. Looking at Harvey and Imelda you can clearly see that these two storms dumped more rain than most hurricanes. According to Live Science Imelda was one of the wettest storms in U.S. history.

However let's look at some other areas of the country to get a true comparison. The Nebraska, Iowa, and Oklahoma flooding saw one storm after another early in 2019 causing wide spread flooding for several months.

North Alabama saw the same thing happen in 2019 when power companies could not handle the amount of water coming through their managed water sources causing flooding in low risk areas like Florence Alabama.

In 2020 we are starting to see the same thing occur in North Alabama again as they are expected to get hit with a rainstorm that will drop more than 3 inches of rain for the third time in 3 weeks.

It's important to understand that currently climate change is not factor in flood insurance rates. Its something that is being reviewed for NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 in 2021, but there are no guarantees it will be implemented.

So then what happens when you have inaccurate flood maps and climate change that you can not necessarily forecast. You have an unpredictable flood risk model that makes it very difficult for companies to manage risk properly.

As a result you have companies moving out of those areas or best case scenario limiting the amount of business they do in these areas.

Generally the first thing they start to do is limit areas within 5 miles of the coast and then coverage amounts. This can make commercial flood insurance very difficult to find as most banks require $500,000 on each special flood hazard area property.

Now as mapping improves, technology improves, and climate change forecasting improves you may start to see more private flood insurance options available in areas like Houston Texas. However for the time being expect to see options become more limited until these things happen. Some important things to look at in these areas are mitigation efforts you done to the property to help minimize the risk.

Maybe you have put flood vents on your property, maybe you have dry proofed the property, or even raised the building. These are all factors that could give you more flood insurance options.

So if you want to know what your flood insurance options are in Texas or how your mitigation efforts might impact your flood insurance options then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do daily flood education videos. You can also tune into our daily flood podcast.

 

So you have that family heirloom that has been in the family for years. It was passed down through your family over the last 100 years and is priceless to you.

Simple sign hanging outside old brick building with antiques shop

It might not be priceless if you have a flood insurance claim?

Antique coverage on a flood insurance policy can be very shocking, especially after a claim. Many people do not realize that FEMA uses functional value on these items.

So that family heirloom might just be worth $50 instead of the $5000 you think it's worth.

A close-up picture of a cute young surprised, unhappy, puzzled woman, girl holding an empty wallet, isolated  on a white background

First let's define what an antique is and how it might be different from something like fur?

An antique is a collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age.

Antique coverage works a little bit differently than something like fur. Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs are only covered up to $2500, while antiques have functional value.

So let's discuss a scenario where coverage is paid out on antiques.

We recently had a customer come to us from Texas after a flood insurance claim. They had a $100,000 in contents coverage but only received $15,000 from FEMA. They could not figure out why the check was so low. The owner was in tears as she sat there looking at belongings knowing she could not replace them for $15,000. They had paid all this money for the last twenty years only to be shocked that they didn't have the coverage they thought they did.

You see about 90% of the things that were destroyed in this home were antiques that had been in the family for years. So while these things were worth alot of money and even more memories to the property owner, they were worth very little to FEMA.

The reason is as we mentioned before FEMA uses functional value.

So what exactly is functional value?

Well let's use your great grandmothers jewelry box for example. It's been in the family for over 100 years and it's worth alot of money. However if its destroyed by flood what are you getting?

Happy beautiful young woman opening jewelery gift box

You are going to get what it would cost to buy a regular jewelry box with the same dimensions.

As you can imagine this can be a major disappointment.

This is one of the biggest surprises most property owners have during the National Flood Insurance Program flood claim process.

So what exactly can you do to get that antique covered?

You could look for a specific policy that would cover it but most have flood as an exclusion.

What we normally recommend is keeping items like this at higher ground so that they are hopefully the last item to be destroyed. Whether you have a private flood insurance policy or a National Flood Insurance program policy we recommend reading the personal property very closely about how claims are paid out.

As we have discussed today antique coverage can be confusing because if a claim occurs you aren't really sure what you are going to get, but you know it won't be what the item is worth to you.

If you have further questions about flood insurance for antiques make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do our daily flood education videos.

 

 

Flood insurance can be confusing for anyone but especially if you don't deal with it everyday. When it comes to mortgage companies it's not unusual for underwriters to be the only ones that deal with this issue on a daily basis.

We want to talk about three things loan officers should know when it comes to flood insurance.

  1. Flood zones
  2. Flood insurance options available
  3. Policy transfers

As you can imagine flood insurance can have a big impact on things like debt to income ratios. It's not uncommon for flood insurance to stop a buyer from purchasing a property. Sometimes the buyer either can't afford it or buying in a special flood hazard area just scares them. It's important to understand when flood insurance is required and when it isn't. We are going to discuss which flood zones require flood insurance and which ones don't.

  1. Flood zone X
  2. Flood zone A
  3. Flood zone AE
  4. Flood zone V
  5. Flood zone VE

While these are not all the flood zones they are the most common types.

So which ones require flood insurance and which ones don't?

Let's start with flood zone X this whats called a minimal risk area where flood insurance is not required. This zone does normally offer the best flood insurance rates because it is a lower risk.

 

Flood zone A and AE are both in whats called the 100 year flood zone. If a mortgage is being carried flood insurance will be required in these zones. The difference between these two zones is normally zone A does not have a base flood elevation.

 

 

Flood zone V and VE are going to be coastal areas that are at risk of tide flooding. These two zones will also require flood insurance and will normally have the highest rates because of the distance to water.

So now we know when flood insurance is required and when it is not what options are available?

There are basically two flood insurance available but they are not available to everyone.

The flood insurance options really depend on the type of loan the customer is doing. As of July 1, 2019 the FDIC passed a law allowing private flood insurance on all loan types accept for FHA loans. As long as the private flood insurance meets the same requirement as the National Flood Insurance Program.

Lets talk about some differences in these options. First we will discuss the residential coverages with a National Flood Insurance Program policy.

 

National Flood Insurance Program

The National Flood Insurance Program is the FEMA program or government funded flood insurance program. No matter where you go for coverage rates should be the same. When it comes to building coverage they max out coverages at $250,000 and a $100,000 on contents. There is no additional living expenses provided under the National Flood Insurance Program. Because of the way rates are determined the National Flood Insurance Program can offer some pretty high rates. So what is the other option?

 

Private Flood Insurance Program

Private flood insurance is backed by private insurance companies who set their own rates based on multiple factors. They use some different technology that can help reduce flood insurance rates by more than 40%. Unlike the National Flood Insurance Program they do not limit building coverage to $250,000 or contents coverage to $100,000. Private flood insurance also offers additional living expenses so if your home floods you could have a temporary place to go while it is prepared.

Now that we know what flood insurance options are available lets discuss the third thing that loan officers should know when it comes to flood insurance.

 

Policy Transfer

So what is a policy transfer?

A policy transfer is when a flood insurance policy is transferred from one buyer to the next.

 

What are some benefits to doing this?

Let's say that the current property owner has had this policy for several years on a flood zone that is no longer available. Then this would be what is called a grandfathered policy.

 

By doing a policy transfer in this situation it guarantees that this rate will continue as long as the policy does not lapse at all.

Another benefit to doing a policy transfer is how easy it is, there usually is just one sheet of paper the buyer and seller has to pay.

You could also be in the situation like I was many years ago where I had already paid the flood insurance up front, so the new buyer did not have to pay any flood insurance premiums until renewal.

As you can see understanding what a policy transfer is and its benefits is very important.

We have talked about flood zones, flood insurance options, and policy transfers and how its important for the loan officers to understand these three things. Understanding these three things can help save headaches when that file gets to the underwriters desk.

Maybe you have additional questions about these three things or your buyer has additional questions then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or our Facebook page. You can also check out our podcast.

 

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