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


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

Be Prepared sign with clouds and sky background

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.

Loans Concept. Word on Folder Register of Card Index. Selective Focus.-1

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.



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.


Contact Us


Chris Greene


Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation

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.

Couple looking at a beautiful house to buy

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.


Contact Us


Chris Greene


Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation


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.



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.


Start My Flood Insurance Quote

Chris Greene


Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation



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
    Business man pointing the text Customer Experience

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.

Tuscany landscape with typical farm house-1

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?

Business man looking at wall with a bright question mark concept

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

Chris Greene


Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Businessman celebrating his success and jumping over gray background. Looking at camera

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.


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.


Contact Us






Chris Greene


Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation



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!


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.


Contact Us


Chris Greene


Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation




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.

rule 5 (1)

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



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.



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.



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 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.



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.



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.


Contact Us


Chris Greene


Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation