What is flash flooding?

Flash flooding is when flooding occurs pretty quickly after an event like rainfall and goes away quickly.

So imagine this you are sitting in your car waiting on traffic on 280 and it starts raining. Well if you live somewhere like the Hoover area this could be a long wait. So you have been sitting there for about 30 minutes next thing you know the water around you starts rising. You look down and water starts coming in your vehicle.

Alabama Flash Flooding

Well what do you do?

You have to exit your vehicle to safety. So you get to the top of the vehicle. As you sit there and wait for help you think how did that happen so fast?

This is exactly what flash flooding is and how fast it can happen in the Birmingham area. This is normally what catches people by surprise.

People in the Vestavia and Pelham area experience this often when it rains.

These waters can rise very quickly and become very dangerous. So many people each year lose their lives to flash flooding because it happens so fast.

It can also be very destructive to properties. Just ask the residents of the Saint Louis area who just suffered some major property losses as a result of flash flooding.

So we have talked about what flash flooding is and if it is dangerous.

So is flash flooding in Alabama covered by flood insurance?

Let's look at what FEMA defines a flood as. According to FEMA a flood is when either 2 or more properties are inundated with water or 2 acres or more.

So in the situation we discussed about Saint Louis yes flood insurance should cover some things. However there are many situations where flash flooding doesn't meet this definition and coverage is not available.

So if you have further questions about flash flooding and flood insurance coverages in Alabama then make sure to visit our website.

You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or check out our podcast.

 

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation so we are here to help you understand your flood risks, flood insurance, and mitigate your property long term.

 

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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

 

Flood insurance rates can be all over the board. Someone might have a rate of $450 in Birmingham Alabama then someone might have a rate of $2000 in Tuscaloosa Alabama.

So how much is too much for flood insurance in Alabama?

Well before we can really answer that question we need to look at some factors that can impact flood insurance in Alabama.

  1. Elevation
  2. Foundation
  3. Type of Coverage

So lets take a brief look at some things above that can impact flood insurance in places like Tuscaloosa, Pell City, Demopolis, Huntsville, and Birmingham Alabama.

Elevation plays a major role in flood insurance rates. As you can see with the photo below. The further your property is below the base flood elevation the higher your flood insurance premiums can be.

So the rate for a property that is negative -1 foot and a property that is -3 feet could be hundreds of dollars.

Now lets look at foundation types. Your foundation type could play a major role on your flood insurance premiums. Alabama homes are known for having basements which could cause many homes to have a more negative number on their elevation.

Homes with above grade crawlspaces could have an advantage if they have flood vents installed properly. If these things are down properly this may not count as your lowest rated floor. So while the elevation of the crawlspace might be -1 but the next floor is +2 this could serve as a great benefit to the premiums on a flood insurance policy.

Lets look at the 3rd factor which is the type of coverage. This could go a few ways whether you are using the property for commercial or residential use. Then there is the factor if it is considered to be residential or a non residential building.

Remember in order for a commercial property to be considered residential 75% of the living space has to be used for residential purposes.

As you can see there can be alot of different factors.

So lets get back to the question how much is too much for flood insurance in Alabama?

It depends if we are talking about the National Flood Insurance Program or a private flood insurance policy in Alabama. While all the rates with the National Flood Insurance Program should be the same many times lack of knowledge on the insurance agents part could cause you to see a difference.

On the private flood insurance side each carrier sets their rates based on the underwriting factors they use to insure a property.

These can be different from FEMA for example some companies will not insure properties in the 20 year flood plain or properties that are in the flood way.

Want to know what a floodway is?

 

So at the end of the day whether you decide to go with the National Flood Insurance Program or a private flood insurance policy its all about what your budget is and what you feel comfortable paying each year. Its also important to understand that these rates can go up from year to year.

So if you have further questions about flood insurance rates in Alabama then make sure to click here.

You can also checkout our YouTube channel where we do daily flood education videos. You can also check out our podcast.

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation this means we can help you understand your flood insurance, flood risk, and mitigating your property long term.

 

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

 

I come from a pretty educated family. My dad was a physicist, my mom was a school teacher, my brother is an engineer, and all my siblings have at least a masters degree.

However it wasn't suppose to be that way for me. If you have read my other blogs then you know I grew up with a learning disability and college was not even suppose to be in the picture but because of two special educators and determination I was able to graduate top of my class for my masters degree.

However sometimes it feels that this education can hurt people in life. I remember when i was in college all of my college professors had no real work experience.

 

Books on desk in library at the elementary school

What I mean by this is they went straight into teaching and many from a book they wrote. For example I had this college professor who had written every book on management but had never managed a single person in his life.

This is one reason I have always said I would one day return to be a college professor and teach based on the experience I had gained in life.

Enough about that let's look at a recent article by AL.com that ranks the education across the state. This article ranked each county based on college experience and degrees. Overall the state fell about 9 points below the U.S. average.

There were three counties that ranked above the U.S. average which where Shelby, Madison, and Lee county.

I am sure no one is surprised by Lee county War Eagle!

However today we want to take a closer look at Shelby and Madison counties. These two counties represent a portion of the two largest cities in Alabama. Shelby county which is a part of the metro Birmingham area is home to some incredible schools like the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Madison which is near the NASA Rocket Center and the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

Something else these two areas have in common is they are some of the most flood prone areas in the state. It feels like since 2019 the Huntsville Alabama area has had a flood warning every other week. Then areas of Shelby county like Pelham and Alabaster have been threatened by flooding for years.

So knowing this you would think that these areas have a higher amount of active flood insurance policies?

Right....

Not exactly according to FEMA these areas do not even make up a combined 10% of the states active flood policies. In fact Shelby county is less than 1.6%.

Pretty crazy right?

When it comes to understanding flood awareness you need a little bit of book smart and common sense. Yes its a numbers game but its important to understand that everybody is at risk of flooding.

Common sense says if you are near a source of water you could flood.

I can't tell you how many people we talk to Alabama every week that say there is no way their property will ever flood.

Then there was the property owner in Centre Alabama that said if he knew his lake house was going to flood he would not have stored his wife's wedding dress there without coverage.

It's important to know if you have a college degree, a high school diploma, or not even a GED that every property is in a flood zone it's just a matter of how much water it takes to get to you.

So maybe you have more questions about how to protect your Birmingham or Huntsville Property from flooding? How to purchase flood insurance or if you have enough coverage. Then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on YouTube.

 

Contact Us

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qualifications

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

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.

 

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

Author

Chris Greene

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

 

Metropolitan Skyline of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

Retrofitting means making changes to an existing building to protect it from flooding or other hazards such as high winds and earthquakes. It's important to understand that if your property has flooded repeatedly FEMA may require you to do some of these retrofitting methods. Not all methods work the same way so lets discuss them.

According to FEMA there are 6 different ways to retrofit a property in Birmingham Alabama. We want to talk about how these 6 methods can have an impact on your flood insurance premiums in Birmingham Alabama.

  1. Elevation
  2. Wet flood proofing
  3. Relocation
  4. Dry flood proofing
  5. Barrier systems
  6. Demolition

 

Elevation

The first method of flood retrofitting in Birmingham Alabama is elevation. Elevating a property is raising a property up from its original position in the flood area. Elevation can have a huge impact on flood premiums. Remember elevation and location are the two driving factors for flood insurance premiums in areas like Birmingham Alabama and Homewood Alabama. So the higher you raise a property the bigger the impact it could be on your flood insurance premiums. Elevating a property in certain flood prone areas like Chandalar court in Pelham Alabama can be very beneficial. Because of this areas location to the special flood hazard it has flooded in the past and more than likely will in the future.

While elevating a property is a great method, one thing many people forget to do is elevate any servicing equipment like air conditioners as well. While elevating a property can be expensive there are some hazard mitigation grants out there that can help assist with this process. When a presidential disaster declaration is filed these grants are passed down to the local communities. Certain projects are identified as higher needs. The federal government normally pays for 75% and the rest is covered by the state. The state then works with the local communities to determine the urgency of these projects.

Let's discuss the second method of retrofitting which is wet flood proofing.

Wet Flood Proofing

Wet flood proofing is allowing water to pass through your home in order to avoid larger amounts of damage. You may ask why in the world would i let water in my home.

Well one reason is it can eliminate pressure on your foundation keeping your foundation from crumbling during a flood.

One example of flood proofing is using flood vents. These are vents that are placed on the outside of your home that allows water and some debris to pass through.

In order to get credit for these on your flood insurance premiums in Birmingham Alabama the home needs to be above grade foundation like a crawlspace. Then you need to have 1 square inch for every square foot. So if you have 700 square feet you need to have 700 square inches of flood vents. These vents range from $200-400 per vent and then an additional $200-400 for installation. However its not uncommon for it to lower flood premiums in areas like Centerpoint Alabama from $3000 to $700.

Before investing in these vents you want to make sure you have the right foundation type on a home which can be done by obtaining an appraisal or an elevation certificate. You can click here to look at ordering an elevation certificate.

FEMA also states you must have at least 2 flood vents on your home and they must be on different sides of the home. There are two different types of flood vents, engineered and non engineered.

While FEMA does not look at them differently regarding flood insurance rates, engineered flood vents can do a better job of minimizing damage.

Let's look at the 3rd method of retrofitting which is relocation.

 

 

Relocation

Relocation is just like it sounds it is actually picking up the building and moving it to another location. This might mean 50 feet up the hill or 500 miles across country. This completely removes the building from the existing flood risk. Like elevation there are grants and NFIP flood coverages that can cover these expenses.

When it comes to a National Flood Insurance Program policy in order to qualify for resources for relocation the building has to be considered substantially damaged.

Remember substantially damaged means more than 50% of the market value before the flood.

As a result in most situations this removes the mandatory requirement for flood insurance.

The 4th method of retrofitting is dry proofing. So what is dry proofing?

 

Dry Flood Proofing

Dry proofing is sealing your home to prevent flood waters from entering. Sometime this can mean putting a temporary barrier around your property when flood waters are expected. This type of retrofitting usually requires a lot of human intervention, as a result it is not considered a factor in lowering flood insurance premiums.

The 5th method of retrofitting is barrier systems. Barrier systems are things that keep water away from your home. A good example of these are flood walls and levees. These can be expensive to install and maintain. Also if they change the base flood elevation of the area, then a flood plain manager has to sign off before they can be approved. What makes this method even more expensive is they do not impact your National Flood Insurance Program rates at all.

 

Demolition

Heap of rubble from street under repair

The last method of retrofitting is demolition. This is completely tearing the structure down and rebuilding. This may mean rebuilding on the same property or elsewhere. It removes the property from the special flood hazard area.

As you can see some methods of retrofitting can have a big impact on your flood insurance premiums while others may not. Some methods can be expensive like elevating a property. It's important to understand how each one of these methods can impact your property and others in the community. It's also important to understand when you may qualify for certain grants that can help with these methods.

 

If you have further questions about how retrofitting your property can impact your flood insurance rates then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page The Flood Insurance Guru where we do daily flood education videos.

 

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