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.

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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

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

Today we are discussing the availability of flood loss history on a property. How will the release of this information be beneficial? How will it impact realtors, sellers, buyers, and banks?

For many years the public has been pushing for FEMA to make flood loss history on a property available. However FEMA has always made this information private and only available to the current property owner. As of June 2019 this information now available, so what does the release of this information mean?

Well lets talk about how it can help benefit possible home buyers first. Historically when it comes to buyer beware states like Alabama property owners did not have to disclose the flood loss history since FEMA did not make it available. As you can imagine many people are shocked to find out that their property has flooded before. Many property owners may not have purchased a property had they known it has flooded before. So the June 2019 flood insurance loss release can really help these potential property owners make the best buying decision with the correct information.

Now lets talk about how it could hurt sellers a little bit. As you can imagine if a house has flooded it can scare off a lot of buyers. It can also have a big impact on getting the most for your home when selling. One reason is if it has flooded multiple times a property could be on the severity loss history list. This can make flood insurance very expensive and very difficult to sell a house in the future. 

As a realtor having this information can be very valuable because now you can be prepared if you are going to list a house and if you are a buyers agent you can help protect your clients better. Some areas where this is going to have a huge impact are areas like Muscle Shoals, Centre, Owens Cross Roads, and Hokes Bluff Alabama. Knoxville Tennessee, Houston Texas, and areas of New Jersey will also see big impacts. All these areas have seen historic flooding in the past. So this release of flood insurance loss history will protect the buying party.

What will be interesting is how banks treat the release of this information. Certain loan types like FHA have strict appraisal guidelines. So could the release of this information lower appraisal values? Yes it absolutely could if appraisers are able to use verified flood damage in determining values of homes.


Lets be clear the release of this information is a good thing. While it may have a negative impact on some parties like sellers, it gives the public the information they need to make the best decision. So how do you get this information in your hands.? Well it is available at OpenFEMA if you have questions about flood loss history on a property or you want to see how it could impact your flood insurance rates then visit our website Flood Insurance Guru. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel or like our Facebook page where we do daily 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

Today we are discussing how the recent FDIC flood insurance ruling will impact the government loan process and people who have a government loan.

First we need to discuss what kind of loan is considered a government loan. These loan types are going to generally be FHA, VA, and USDA loans.

Up until July 1st 2019 the only flood insurance option for people with government loan has been the National Flood Insurance Program. It has been a long term battle getting banks to accept private flood because it follows different guidelines from the National Flood Insurance Program. One reason is the National Flood Insurance Program is regulated by the government are rates are the same. However as NFIP has been hit one disaster after another these rates have skyrocketed. Some property owners have seen rates go from $3500 to $15,000 over a course of 10 years.

As you can see the need for a much more affordable option flood insurance has been needed for a while. However there have been a few concerns the ability for claims to be paid out, finding a long term stable option, and getting private carriers to follow the same guidelines.

One of the struggles of affordability have been how each company determines rates and risk. We can all agree that NFIP has needed to update its mapping accuracy for a long time. However as private companies have come along they have started to use different technologies that are helping them more accurately determine risks.

So as the deadline approaches how is this going to impact the government loan process? Well NFIP has a payment guideline of 30 days if a mortgage company is making a payment at closing. However many private carriers require a property owner to make the first payment up front. This could cause some buyers to come up with more money before closing eliminating some of the 0% downpayment loans. 

Something else that could have a huge impact is how flood insurance impacts a persons debt to income ratios. This is how many banks determine if someone will qualify for a loan. So lets say you have a $2000 NFIP quote and a $600 private quote that could be more than a $100 a month on a mortgage payment. So this could help more buyers get into a house they want or get more house for the money.

When it comes to coverages we are talking about two different worlds. NFIP maxes out at $250,000 on building while private flood insurance does not. Private flood insurance provides temporary living expenses while NFIP does not. Lastly private offers replacement cost on contents while NFIP doesn't.

So lets recap a little bit about what impacts the FDIC ruling on flood insurance will have. It will give a much more affordable flood insurance option in many situations, a policy that offers more coverage, and could require buyers to pay up front for flood insurance policies.

So maybe you have a government loan and want to know how this will impact you? You can 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

2019 has seen alot of flooding across the country. So much rainfall has fallen in certain areas that there just isn't anywhere for the water to go. So hard decisions are having to be made like spillways and dams being opened up flooding people down stream.

Areas like the Mississippi and Missouri rivers have shown us that hard decisions have to be made when there is no where for the water to go. Sometimes spillways have to be opened up or dams have to release more water downstream than they want. This is exactly what happened in areas like Fort Smith Arkansas, Tulsa Oklahoma and on Lake Keystone in Oklahoma. So what happens?

Well when this water was released downstream properties and lives can be lost, so who is responsible for the damage? Well if you have flood insurance the damages should be covered if either 2 acres is flooded or more than 2 properties. If you don't have flood insurance then you might be able to get disaster assistance if a presidential declaration is filed. However areas like Centre Alabama showed us earlier this year sometimes there just isn't enough disaster assistance. This area had about 25 property owners get flooded with only $5000 in disaster assistance available.

When living in areas like this that are downstream from dams its important to keep your flood insurance active at all times, especially with all the climate change going on. Its also important to understand how your communities dam maintenance can impact local flood insurance rates.

So maybe your property was recently flooded from a spillway or dam being opened and you want to know what your options are? Please visit our website Flood Insurance Guru. You can also find our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel and facebook page.

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