My Post (19)-1

Sorry you need an elevation certificate for us to give you a flood insurance quote in Alabama.

Have you ever heard this when shopping for flood insurance in Alabama?

I know I have heard this almost everyday.

So is it true?

Well it could be and couldn't be.

We are going to look at some scenarios to give you an understanding of when it maybe required and when it may not.

Lets look at two things

  1. National Flood Insurance Program
  2. Private flood insurance

So does the National Flood Insurance Program require an elevation certificate in Alabama?

This could depend on a few things. First thing is the flood zone. If you are in the special flood hazard area also known as the 100 year flood zone then it could be required. We are talking about the following zones.

Flood zone A

Flood zone AE

 

Flood Zone V

 

So if you are in these zones and your property was built after the first flood map then generally an elevation certificate will be required.

What if it was built before the first flood map?

Well if the property has been substantially damaged or improved then an elevation certificate could be required.

Now let's answer the question you came to this blog for.

Does Alabama private flood insurance require elevation certificates?

This is a moving target question. Some private flood insurance carriers will require an elevation certificate if it is a post firm structure and in the special flood hazard area.

Some will the more negative your elevation is below the base flood elevation. Many times carriers use this as part of their flood score. So they may decline the risk but if you have an elevation certificate they may approve the risk.

Click here to order an elevation certificate

Thankfully the majority of the time private flood insurance carriers in Alabama will not require an elevation certificate.

Maybe you have been told all flood insurance is the same?

Then it maybe time to do a flood insurance review.

So if you have further questions about elevation certificates then click here.

You can also learn more about flood insurance by visiting our YouTube channel or tuning into our podcast.

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation. So we are here to help you understand your flood insurance, flood risk, and mitigating your property long term.

 

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

 

 

Flooding in Alabama caused a lot of problems in 2019 and 2020. Many property owners were not aware of certain coverages that were available. As a result their mortgage may have been paid off but they could not replace or repair their home.

So today we want to answer a few questions on excess flood insurance in Alabama

  1. What is Alabama excess flood insurance
  2. When would excess coverage be needed

In understanding what Alabama excess flood insurance is let's think of a brick wall like the photo below.
My Post (17)-1Do you see how the bricks are stacked on top of each other? Well this is exactly what excess flood insurance in Alabama looks like.
You have the primary policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. If it is a residential building then you have coverage up to $250,000. If it is a commercial building you have coverage up to $500,000.

So what happens if this is not enough coverage? This is where excess flood insurance coverage in Alabama kicks in. You would purchase an additional policy through a private flood insurance company. When the coverages on the National Flood Insurance Program are exhausted then this excess policy would kick in.

It's important to know in order to generally do an excess policy you have to have an underlying policy with the National Flood Insurance Program for the max amount of coverage available.

It's also important to understand there would also be multiple deductibles in this situation. One for the National Flood Insurance Program policy and one for the excess policy.

It's also important to understand that different guidelines apply to excess policies and normal private flood insurance policies in Alabama.

So we have looked at what is excess flood insurance coverage in Alabama and when would you need it. Maybe you have further flood questions.

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

Want to know what flood insurance options are available in Alabama? Click here.

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation which means we are here to help you understand your flood insurance, flood risk, and mitigating your property long term.

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 in Alabama can be confusing. Many insurance agents in areas like Birmingham and Montgomery want nothing to do with it and others think people may not be in a flood zone.

Birmingham, Alabama Flood Insurance

After the 2019 Alabama flooding I can't tell you how many times I spoke to someone who said their insurance agent told them they were not in a flood zone.

Yikes!

Try explaining that to someone after they lost everything to a flood. Thats exactly what happened with people in Houston Texas and residents of Nathans Estates in Muscle Schoals Alabama.

So today we are going to look at 5 things that could cause flood insurance e and o claims to happen in Alabama.

  1. Building coverage
  2. Contents coverage
  3. Proper documentation
  4. Mistakes on application
  5. Cobra zones

 

Building Coverage

One of the leading causes of e and o claims on flood insurance can be building coverage. Many agents either don't offer building coverage or don't offer replacement cost on the building in Alabama.

It's important to understand these because a policy could default to actual cash value if the 80% rule is not followed.

 

The National Flood Insurance Program generally requires either the max coverage available or 80% of the replacement cost. So for example if the replacement cost of a building is $400,000 they would require $250,000 to be on the policy.

This is also the opportunity to have excess coverage which could cover the proper replacement cost.

 

Contents Coverage

The next area is contents coverage. We see many policies that do not have contents coverage. This ultimately is up to the customer but many times we see where it was never offered. 

Imagine losing all your personal belongings and not knowing you could have had coverage for it.

You would probably be pretty upset.

Recovering from not having contents coverage can be just as hard as recovering from not having building coverage.

Proper Documentation

Proper documentation on Alabama flood insurance policies is another area where we see alot of error and omission claims occur.

In many situations if the National Flood Insurance Program or FEMA does not receive the documentation they need they will drop coverage down.

I remember speaking with an insurance agent a few months ago. They had called us on this exact issue. The carrier had submitted some documentation to them but they did not see it in their insurance agency management system.

The customers coverage was lowered from $250,000 to $25,000. A claim occurred and to the agent and insureds surprise there was not enough coverage to cover the damages.

Some of the documentation that maybe needed is a signed application by the insured and the agent. Proof of payment, possibly an elevation certificate with color photos.

A big area we see mistakes everyday on is the application. So many times we will see agents mark a home has a basement not truly understanding how FEMA defines a basement.

 

If a property does not have all four sides below ground then FEMA may not consider it a basement. Things like this could cause problems during the claim process.

COBRA Zones

Lastly is writing coverage when it's not available. One big area this happens is Cobra zones and other protected areas.

 

Just a couple of months ago we where advising an agent in Savannah Georgia and Statesboro Georgia about these guidelines. They said well it let me write it. A couple of months later FEMA cancelled the policy for underwriting. We were able to help the client find coverage through the private flood insurance market but it was a difference of about $5000.

As you can see there are alot of things to pay attention to when setting up a flood insurance policy for a client. You want to make sure you have a good process of making sure all things are done.

Maybe you just don't want to offer flood insurance in Alabama and that is fine. We work with insurance agents across the country everyday because of our educational background in flood mitigation. Click here to learn more

If you want to learn more about flood insurance make sure to visit or YouTube channel where do daily flood education videos or our podcast.

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

 

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

So the lake has been lowered does it mean flood insurance on Smith Lake will be lower?

Smith lake Alabama flood insurance

Flood insurance in the Smith Lake Alabama can have a wide range. Areas closer to the water may have higher rates and elevated properties might have cheaper rates on flood insurance in Alabama.

So what happens when the lake is lowered?

 

When it comes to flood insurance in Alabama or really any where rates are based on 12 months. This locks a rate in no matter what happens during that 12 months.

It's very common for lakes to be lowered in Alabama during the winter months so people can work on their docks.

year 1 photo

So will this lower flood insurance in Alabama?

Generally the only way this might lower the flood insurance is if the lowering is permanent. This could be something like draining a lake.

So if this is not going to help what can you do to lower flood insurance on Smith Lake?

One way is by verifying the flood zone. Almost every week we speak to someone on Smith lake that is listed in the wrong flood zone.

So let's say you are in a high risk flood zone like flood zone A and you should be in flood zone X.

What could the impacts be on flood insurance?

  1. Mandatory requirement removed
  2. Standard to preferred rate

If you are moved from a flood zone A to flood zone X then it is possible that your bank will no longer require flood insurance. This could really help with property value if it is no longer required.

The next thing that could help is going from a standard flood rate to a preferred rate. This could be the difference in $500 to $1000 a year.

In this situation you are generally going from a mandatory to a non mandatory flood zone.

So if you have further questions about how to lower flood insurance rates in Alabama then click here. Want to learn more about flood insurance and flood education then make sure to check out our YouTube channel where we do our daily flood education videos.

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

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

Should you buy flood insurance online?

It's a question we get often. Covid 19 has changed a lot of this where everyone is shifting online.

 

 

However as the purchasing of insurance online has increased over the years it seems insurance coverage advising has taken a major hit.

One of the great benefits of walking into an insurance office was that you could have a professional agent advise you on the right coverages.

Lately it feels like insurance has become the next drive thru purchase for consumers.

People are concerned with how fast they can get it 

Can we advise customers online without a physical interaction?

Yes video is one form that is helping to change the purchase of insurance online. Using video through the purchase price does a couple of things.

  1. Personal connection
  2. Coverage recommendation

The development of video has done wonders for us. Whether someone is 2 miles away or 2000 miles away it has helped us develop a deeper relationship with prospects and customers.

Video has also allowed us to show prospects examples of when they may use or need a certain flood insurance coverage.

Can you imagine going online to purchase something with no advisement?

If you didn't know exactly what you were looking for you might pick the wrong thing.

We talk to flood insurance policy holders everyday who have done this. In fact many times they don't know if they have a National Flood Insurance Program policy or a private flood insurance policy.

Want to know the difference click here.

Buying flood insurance online doesn't have to be a bad thing. It just needs to be an advisement experience.

What do mean by that?

We mean that someone needs to help navigate you through the process of coverage selection and policy selection.

Let's look at coverage selection first. When someone comes to us after purchasing flood insurance online the first thing we look at is replacement cost of property.

 

The majority of the time they are underinsured for about 30-40%

Getting only 60-70% of your home rebuilt would do you much good. It would probably look like the picture below.

Now let's look at policy selection. When consumers are faced with the choice to choose between private flood insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program price is usually the driving factor.

However many times they are not shown the long term stability of those rates over a 5 year period. While the National Flood Insurance Program might have a higher rate they may have had more stable rates over a 5 year period.

As you see buying flood insurance online can be scary but it doesn't have to be. If you want to actually speak with someone or even get a video proposal on your flood insurance then click here.

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

If you want to learn more about flood insurance you can also check out our YouTube channel where we do daily flood education videos.

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

2019 and 2020 has brought some serious flood threats to Alabama during the winter months. 

So today we will look at the following

  1. Why the flooding occurred
  2. Impacts on insurance
  3. What to expect in 2021

 

Why Flooding Happened

Alabama received a large amount of rainfall in 2019 and 2020. As a result then water tables were full for a long time. According to WAAY 31  rain continued to fall there just wasn't anywhere for the water to go.

 

Even the power companies through out Alabama had a hard time managing the amount of water coming through the state. Water levels on the Tennessee River, Lake Logan Martin, Smith lake, and Weiss lake set records.

Some people on Weiss lake had total losses to their properties as a result of flooding.

In Muscle Shoals Alabama Nathan estate residents lost everything to flooding. This area was not even in a special flood hazard area so many people did not have flood insurance.

As a result they had to depend on disaster assistance to help them which is a very little amount of money.

Since this flooding in 2019 and 2020 hit it has caused a ripple effect when it comes to private flood insurance options.

Some carriers are not currently writing flood insurance in certain parts of North Alabama and East Alabama.

As a result many property owners have had to find either get a higher private flood insurance option or go back to the National Flood Insurance Program.

What to Expect in 2021

So can we expect the same thing to happen in 2021?

It's important to make sure to have flood insurance in place if this flooding was to occur again.

However 2021 is bringing some different challenges with it. Unlike 2019 and 2020 the water tables are not nearly as high as they were. This will allow for more water absorption, less runoff, and better water management by local watersheds.

This doesn't mean that winter flooding won't occur in Alabama in 2021.

So what can you do to be prepared if this flooding does occur?

As we mentioned making sure your have your Alabama flood insurance in place is the first step.

Waiting until the end of January to try to do this is a bad idea.

Almost all flood insurance companies have wait periods. This is the time frame between when a policy is issued and when a claim would be covered.

 

The National Flood Insurance Program generally has a 30 day wait period. Private flood insurance companies can range from 1 day to 15 days.

Flood Insurance Options

So what flood insurance options are available in Alabama?

As we have mentioned before you have the National Flood Insurance Program and you have private flood insurance companies.

One is backed by the government and one is backed by private flood insurance companies.

It's important to understand that National Flood Insurance Program should be the same price no matter where you get it from, but private flood insurance will widely range on price.

Each private flood insurance carrier has their own rating model so coverages and pricing are unique. If you want to learn more about your options then click here.

You can also check out our YouTube channel where we put our daily flood education videos.

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation. So we are here to help you understand your flood insurance, flood risk, and mitigating your property long term.

 

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

For a long time commercial property owners in Alabama have felt they only had one option for flood insurance. However over the last 15 years private flood insurance companies have made a major push.

 

For the longest time private flood insurance companies could not figure out a profitable that also gave them predictable models. As technology has developed these changes have started to push the private flood insurance industry in Alabama forward.

So is the National Flood Insurance Program still the best option for your Alabama commercial property?

Let's look at some changes coming to the National Flood insurance program. The first is rate increases up to 25% on non primary residence properties.

 

This could have a major impact on investors and investment properties.

It could also impact people like apartment building owners.

 

Some other changes scheduled to happen is NFIP Risk Rating 2.0.

 

Everyone is not sure about the overall total impact of this new program. However the closer you are to water it could have a major impact on your bottom line.

So with these changes coming it could significantly the pockets of investors. Before deciding if its still the best option we need to look at some coverages the National Flood Insurance Program does not offer.

As a Huntsville business owner one of the biggest exposures to you could be loss of income. What if you have a restaurant along the Tennessee River and it floods.

 

How would the restaurant stay open when it recovers from this disaster?

This is where loss of income can come into play. This can be a great benefit of private flood insurance in Alabama. The National Flood Insurance Program does not offer loss of income on its flood policies.

As the National Flood Insurance Program continues to increase prices it also has property owners in areas like Montgomery and Birmingham Alabama searching for a cheaper commercial flood insurance option.

So is commercial flood insurance cheaper in Alabama?

It depends on a lot of factors like the flood score, loss history, and location.

Its not unusual to get a commercial flood policy in areas like Huntsville or Birmingham Alabama that is 30-40% less.

 

However in areas of east Alabama like Gadsden, Oxford, and Anniston where losses have occurred in the past rates could be higher or they may not do a policy on the property at all.

It's important to understand what commercial flood insurance options are available in Alabama and when you can make the switch to private flood insurance.

If you want to learn more about this then click here and we can reach out to you.

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

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation which means we are here to help you understand your flood insurance, flood risk, and mitigating your property long term.

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

 

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.

 

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

 

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