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Flood insurance premiums in Birmingham, Alabama just keep increasing a fast pace but why. Parts of Birmingham like Trussville, Pell City, Leeds, Moody, Pelham, And Alabaster Alabama have not seen more flooding than other parts of the country. If anything flood insurance premiums in Birmingham Alabama should be going down shouldn't they?

Everyone thinks because an area hasn't experienced flooding recently that flood insurance rates should be going down. However you have to remember just because it hasn't happened recently does not mean the risk is not there. Flooding risks are based on probabilities lets discuss the two flood zones that use these probabilities.

 

           Flood Zone A

Flood zone A are areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event. Because detailed hydraulic analyses have not been performed, no Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) or flood depths are shown. Because of this many times flood zone A premiums can be very high.

 

          Flood Zone AE 

Flood zone AE areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event. The big difference between these zones and A zones is the base flood elevation numbers are known.

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Why the high rates

Many of these high rates should really not be high for a few reasons. First of all many of these properties are in high risk flood zones when they should not be. Alot of these properties could be corrected with a simple survey or elevation certificate that shows how the elevations of the home compare to the base flood elevation. Just be careful before paying for an elevation certificate because in flood zone A it could be a waste of money if there is no flood elevation.

    Subsidized rates

Some of these rates are also high because FEMA subsidized flood insurance rates many years ago. They do this to make flood insurance affordable in many areas. Some of these subsidizations go away over time drastically increasing flood insurance rates.

So what can be done

Well as these subsidizations go away there is still hope with the Community Rating System these are discounts FEMA allows when communities do certain mitigation efforts to protect the community against flood hazards.

         Private flood insurance

Private flood insurance is another option that is helping alot of property owners in Birmingham Alabama. These are flood policies that are backed by private insurance companies. As a result they can pick what risks they want to insure while FEMA generally can not. So as result many times they can provide options with better coverage and rates that might be 40% less.

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Maybe your flood insurance rates just keep drastically increasing and you want to see what options are available? Visit our website Flood Insurance Guru, our YouTube channel or Facebook page The Flood Insurance Guru where we do daily flood education videos.

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Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

Dealing with a disaster can be a very difficult time. However being declined for disaster assistance can make things even more difficult. We want to talk about 5 things that could cause this to happen. This is especially important in areas that have experienced lots of flooding recently like Nebraska City, Kearney, Gibbon, and Wood River Nebraska.

Home is livable

Disaster assistance is for those really bad situations. It's for people who do not have a reasonable place to live in Nebraska. What we mean by this is its not safe for them to stay in their Nebraska flooded home. So additional living expenses is provided possibly up to 18 months.  So lets say you had a some water in a basement but had it removed and someone else had 4 feet of water on their first floor. As you can see these are big differences in living conditions.

Lack of Communication

Communication is key in getting disaster assistance approved in Nebraska. Let's say you can't live in the home then you need to make sure FEMA has three ways to reach you. You should provide

1. Cell Phone number

2. Email address

3. Temporary address

If FEMA can not reach you they can close out your case and move on to the next customer. So it's important to fill out the disaster assistance application with the right information.

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Duplicate coverage

As mentioned before disaster assistance is for those really bad situations. You may have flood insurance either through the NFIP or the private market on your Nebraska property. If you do then you would need to max out this policy before being approved for disaster assistance. There are going to be some things that won't be covered because insurance covered it and there will be some things that insurance does not cover. One of the biggest things that gets declined because of duplicate coverage is building coverage and contents coverage, this especially important in Nebraska because many people have multiple structures on their property with it being a heavy farming area. However one of the things that can still be picked up by disaster assistance is temporary living expenses. This is one thing Nebraska NFIP flood policies do not cover but some Nebraska private flood insurance policies do cover.

More than 1 person in household filing

Disaster assistance can quickly be declined if more than one person in the same Nebraska household apply for it. Disaster assistance will only pay out for one individual per household. So if you are married make sure to only do one application to decrease the chances of being declined.

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Your identity

Identifying yourself properly is crucial to getting approved for disaster assistance. Here is a link that can assist you getting the proper types of identification

1. Social Security Number must match name on application

   A. If it does not match

       1. Marriage license needed

       2.  Military or Government ID

2. Must be a U.S. Citizen

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If you have further questions about disaster assistance in Nebraska please visit our website Flood Insurance Guru to learn more. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page The Flood Insurance where we do daily flood education videos. You can also contact us by clicking the link below.

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Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

 

It's important to understand the different stages of a disaster and how they each represent a different pillar of flood insurance. There is preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.. Today we are specifically going to discuss flood response.

Response

Being prepared for a disaster is crucial for survival, but how you respond can determine the future. So let's talk about response in regards to flood insurance. You are standing there looking at 3 feet of water on your home so what do you do.

       Water removal

  In many situations the flood waters will recede but sometimes it either doesn't happen fast enough or not at all. It's important to get this water removed as soon as possible. One reason is to minimize the development and spreading of mold. I n many situations mold may not be covered by flood insurance if it could have been preventable. Another reason for the importance of water removal immediately is to minimize the damage to the building and any personal property. Getting water removed within the first 24 hours could be the difference between a home being a total loss and a claim less than $25,000. The importance of that is flood insurance availability in the private market can be limited if you have claims exceed more than $25,000. So once the water is remove what is next.

         Documentation is everything

       So the water is gone and now you are looking at a lot of damage. Where do you start?

                 Photo documentation

    If possible its important to get photos of all damage throughout the property. This can help in a few areas. First of all when working on the claim this documentation can help the process go a little quicker and it can also make sure you are getting the right dollar amount for your property. Many times flood policies are done on an actual cash basis this means you get the money for what you paid for an item when you bought it. 

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                  Sample of damage

        Let's say you have wood floors or carpet that is destroyed from flood           waters. It's always recommended that you keep a sample of the damage. This way when the FEMA adjuster or private flood adjuster comes out you can show them the actual damage. Another way to show this sample might be documenting the damage through video. Taking a video of all the damage before anything has been removed  can show exactly what was destroyed giving you a stronger case for the right dollar amount on your property.

                   Receipts or bill of sale

    Most flood insurance is done on a reimbursement basis. So in the response period its important to keep all receipts or bill of sales to document anything you have had to purchase as a result of flood damage.

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Flood insurance response  is a crucial part to making sure flood recovery and mitigation are successful. As we have shown documentation is very important during this period. Want to learn more about flood response? Check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page The Flood Insurance Guru where do daily flood education videos and our weekly podcast The Flood Guru.

Start My Flood Insurance Quote

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

 

Its important to understand the different stages of a disaster and how they each represent a different pillar of flood insurance. There is preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.. Today we are specifically going to discuss flood preparedness.

 

Preparedness

Being prepared for a disaster is crucial for survival. So let's talk about preparedness in regards to flood insurance. One of the first steps in preparing for a flood is making sure you have the right things in place. This should start with having a flood insurance policy in place through either the National Flood Insurance Program or private flood insurance.

         Understanding the policy

  Understanding the flood insurance policy is just as important as purchasing the policy. What could is a flood policy if it doesn't have the right coverages.  On protecting the building you want to make sure you can get as much coverage as possible. If going through NFP this maxes out at $250,000 on residential buildings but private flood can go higher. Its important to know just because your policy goes to this amount does not mean you will get this amount. You want to pay attention to what the policy states on loss settlement because this could determine what amount you get.

                       Contents Coverage

       Protecting your belongings with flood insurance can be the difference between            losing everything and losing nothing. This is going to cover things like clothing, furniture, and other household items. An NFIP policy will cover contents up to $100,000 and you can get more through the private market. Most policies will be written on an actual cash value basis which means you won't get the amount it would cost to replace these items today. There are a few private flood insurance companies that do offer this coverage but you want to pay attention to exclusions.

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Temporarily Living Expenses

If your property floods more than likely you are going to need a place to stay. Its important to understand that while a NFIP policy does not provide this coverage you can get it if a presidential disaster declaration has been filed. You can get this coverage on a private flood insurance policy. Its generally limited to $25,000 and on a reimbursement basis. 

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Picking the right deductible

Picking a deductible can be a dangerous decision you want to make sure to select a deductible that you can afford and have an emergency fund big enough to cover. So many people pick a $5000 or $10000 deductible but when a flood occurs they can't afford the deductible. As a result the claim can not be processed.

Disaster Emergency Fund

Flood insurance works a little bit differently than things like a house fire or roof leak. Floods take a long time to recover from and can break the bank no matter who you are, even if you have flood insurance. Many parts of a flood insurance policy are done on a reimbursement basis. It may take 3-6 months to get your money back in some situations so its important to prepare for this. Its normally recommended that you have a disaster emergency fund that can cover up to 6 months of living expenses.

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Flood insurance preparedness is a crucial part to making sure flood response, recovery, and mitigation are successful. Want to learn more about flood preparedness? Check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page The Flood Insurance Guru where do daily flood education videos and our weekly podcast The Flood Guru.

Start My Flood Insurance Quote

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

4 Types of Basements and How They Can Impact Your Flood Insurance Rates 4 Types of Basements and How They Can Impact Your Flood Insurance Rates 4 Types of Basements and How They Can Impact Your Flood Insurance Rates 4 Types of Basements and How They Can Impact Your Flood Insurance Rates

Today we are discussing 4 types of basements and how they can impact your flood insurance rates. The 4 types of basements are walk out, full, finished, and unfinished. So lets discuss these types of basements.

Walk out Basements

Walk out basements are just like they sound they have an entry way from outside the home. Because of these not all asides of the basement are below grade and they can have a lower impact on flood insurance rates. It's also important to understand that many times walk out basements can be mistaken for split level slab homes. It all depends on how the grade runs along the outside of the home.

Full basements

Full basements are generally basements that are below grade on each side with no entry way from the outside. Full basements can cause flood insurance rates to be higher because they will generally be more negatively elevated than other basement types. While they don't have the risk of allowing water to come through a door way they do have the risk of allowing water in through other areas like windows or even through the ground. Its important to understand that flood insurance will not generally pay out for damages from water that comes from the ground.

Finished Basements
Finished basements can create a major financial risk for property owners because coverages for basements are generally limited. Things like drywall, carpet, window treatments are not covered by the National Flood Insurance Program policy. You can get additional coverages for basements with a private flood insurance policies that will provide additional content coverages.

Unfinished Basements
​Unfinished basements can also have a minimal impact on flood insurance rates. One reason is there is not much to cover and not much that can get destroyed. Things that are generally covered in these types of basements are freezers, washers, dryers, circuit breakers, and furnaces.

Its always important to review flood insurance policies before purchasing to see how your basement will impact your flood insurance rates and what coverages are available.
If you have questions about how your basement might be impacting your flood insurance rates please visit our website Flood Insurance Guru, our YouTube channel The Flood Insurance Guru, or our Facebook page The Flood Insurance Guru where we do daily flood education videos. You can also click the link below.

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

.Flood insurance maps are always changing as land development continues, erosion becomes more of an issue, and constant rising water sources. One area that is getting new flood insurance maps is Columbia County in Augusta Georgia.

Lets talk about a few things. Who is going to be impacted? What are the impacts going to be? Can you fight these changes.

Who is impacted

Residents in areas like Martinez, Grovetown, and Evans Georgia could see big flood insurance changes. Lets talk about exactly what these changes will be.


Flood insurance changes Columbia county Georgia

Columbia county Georgia had some big flood insurance changes in June of 2019. These changes were not all good and they were not all bad. The good changes were properties that were moved from a high risk zone to a low risk zone. FEMA feels these are properties that have had a decrease in annual exceedance probability. This means the chances of a flood event in a given year have decreased. If your property is on this list and you have a mortgage then you should be receiving a letter that your mortgage company is no longer going to require flood insurance. Before going and cancelling the flood insurance you want to be cautious. Your new flood zone which is probably a flood zone x poses some serious dangers.

While flood zone x does not require flood insurance 30% of flooding does occur in this zone many times as a result of flooding. This type of flood zone also offers some of the cheapest flood insurance rates in Augusta Georgia. 

Now lets talk about the bad news with the new flood insurance maps in Augusta Georgia. When these new maps were put into place it moved a lot of properties from a low risk flood zone to a high risk flood zone. There are two high risk flood zones that the property may have been moved to, either a flood zone A or a flood zone AE. Both of these flood zones will require flood insurance if you have a mortgage. Now if you have received a letter from your mortgage company stating you need flood insurance be cautious in who you work with on the flood insurance. These newly changed areas will qualify for the newly mapped areas which generally have rates around $530 a year. You want to work with someone like the Flood Insurance Guru who has an educational background in flood mitigation.

Fighting the change

So can you fight these flood map changes? Absolutely there are a few things you want to know first of all if you were moved to a flood zone A you want to make sure there is a base flood elevation because many times flood zone A does not have one. You will need this in order to see if you qualify for a flood zone removal. When it comes to flood zone AE this will always have a base flood elevation so many times it can be easier to get a flood zone changed. These changes are referred to as letter of map amendments and can have a big impact on property values.

So we have talked about who is impacted in Augusta Georgia, what these impacts will be, and how to fight these changes? Maybe you have further questions then please visit our website Flood Insurance Guru, check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or our Facebook page. You can also click the link below to learn what your options are in Augusta Georgia.

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

.Today we are discussing should the government be involved in flood insurance or not. The National government has been looking at privatizing flood insurance.

Flood premiums have continued to come through the years. Some areas have seen more than a 700% premium increase over the last 10 years. The National Flood Insurance Program is more than $20 billion in debt. Each time a disaster hits they have to be given more money to provide the right disaster assistance to property owners. This has many people upset and desperate to find another option. So the conversation is started in D.C. should the government privatize flood insurance? Lets talk about this a little bit.

One of the major struggles with privatizing flood insurance has been making sure a stable private option is in place. Congress wants to avoid a company taking on a large amount of losses and not being able to keep affordability. Another struggle has been making sure people in areas that continue to flood are protected. One last thing has been correctly determining risk but private companies are actually doing a better job of this because of technology.

These struggles have made it very challenging through the years. So what do you think? Should flood insurance be privatized? Comment below to let us know what you think.

If you have questions about flood insurance or private options you can always visit our website Flood Insurance Guru. You can also visit our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do daily flood education videos.

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

In this episode of rumor has it we are talking about the rumor that there is a law requiring elevation certificates. While elevation certificates might be required in certain situations there is no law that states they are required for new flood policies.

Let's talk about when they may be required. First of all there are two types of structures. We have pre-firm and post-firm structures. Pre-firm structures are structures that were built for 1978 or the first local flood map. Post firm structures are structures that were built after the first flood map.

Lets talk about when elevation certificates might be required on these structures. First on pre-firm structures elevation certificates are not required unless one of two conditions exist. Either the property has had an addition or been substantially improved. In order to be considered substantially improved generally a property has to have 40-50% improvement within a given year. 

If either of these conditions exist then the year built of the property changes to when these things take place. However even if these things have taken place it still doesn't mean an elevation certificate will be required. A property still has to be in a special flood hazard area or a flood zone A or V in order for an elevation certificate to be required. Now lets talk about post firm structures.

On post firm structures it doesn't matter if a home has had additions or not if it . is in a special flood hazard area then an elevation certificate would be required. What's important to understand is these elevation certificates are only going to be required if you are going through the National Flood Insurance Program for your flood insurance.

So if you have questions about if you need an elevation certificate or not please visit our website  Flood Insurance Guru. You can also visit our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do daily flood education videos.

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

So you found out that you need flood insurance and that you also need an elevation certificate. So you start your search for some one to complete it. Generally this will be done by a surveyor. However before you have it completed you want to ask a few questions.

Here are 5 questions you should ask before hiring a surveyor.

1. Are you licensed
2. How long have you been doing this?
3. How long will it take to get certificate
4. What happens if some of the information is wrong
5. Will you provide color photos

So lets talk a little bit about why these questions. First of surveyors are generally licensed by a state board. This board makes sure that they follow certain ethics and guidelines. The next thing is how long have they been doing this? You want to make sure you are working with someone who has a lot of experience doing elevation certificates as they can be confusing and FEMA can be demanding.

Once they do the work how long will the certificate take? Whether you are waiting on the certificate to get insurance or get a flood zone change you need to know how long it will take. If it is going to take up to 7 days it may have an impact on your home closing if you are purchasing a property.

So you get the elevation certificate back but something is wrong. Your house is a slab but says basement or it says you have an attached garage and you don't. You want to make sure the surveyor is willing to make quick changes if some of the information is wrong. If they are not it could have a huge impact on your flood insurance rates or FEMA may not accept it at all.

The last question you may want to ask is if color photos will be included. If they are not it won't be a deal breaker. You just may have to take them on your own. The reason is if you are doing a new policy through FEMA they will require a color photo of each side of the house. This helps them verify the foundation time, lowest adjacent grade and other things. It also important to know photos must be taken within 90 days of new policy being set up.

As you can see there are a lot of things that go into a surveyor doing an elevation certificate. You want to do your homework to make sure they are done correctly as many are not. So If you have questions about surveyors or elevation certificates please visit our website Flood Insurance Guru. You can also visit our YouTube channel or Facebook page The Flood Insurance Guru where we do daily flood education videos.

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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

So you get a call from the bank about the home you are trying to buy or already own. They state its in a high risk flood zone and they are requiring flood insurance for the loan amount. So you start searching for flood insurance to cover the loan amount. This is where 3 dangers of covering the loan amount can be created which are cost to rebuild, personal property, and additional living expenses.


Let's discuss those three dangers of getting flood insurance for the mortgage loan amount.  Let's say you own have a loan amount of $75,000 on a 2500 square foot house more than likely $75,000 is not going to rebuild it. While it is great that the loan amount would be covered if it was a total loss, but most flood losses are not total losses. 

So how would you come up with the difference to repair your home. Well if you are in a presidentially declared area you might get a little disaster assistance or be able to apply for an SBA loan . What happens if you get declined?

Well you could be on the hook for the difference which could be more than a $100,000 hit to your wallet. This is why it is so important to insure your home for whatever the replacement cost is but many flood companies don't calculate this so what do you do? Well it is recommended that the flood insurance matches what the home insurance policy states.

The next danger that only covering the loan amount for flood insurance does is it exposes your personal property. Remember if your home floods your home insurance generally will not cover your belongings. If you are only covering the loan amount you could lose everything you own. So how much personal property coverage do you need? Well we generally recommend fifty percent of what ever the house is being covered for.

So the last danger is like pouring gasoline on the fire. So you only covered the loan amount and now you have lost all your belongings, so where are you going to stay. Well if you don't have temporary living expenses listed you might be in a shelter if you are lucky. This would pay for a place for you to stay while your property is being repaired.

As we have shown you only covering the loan amount for flood insurance can be a very dangerous situation. So if you have questions about how to add these other coverages or which coverages to pick please visit our website Flood Insurance Guru. You can also visit our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do daily flood educational videos.

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

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