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When local residents of Covington GA think about flooding their home town normally doesn't come to mind. What normally comes to mind are areas like Jackson Lake or Lake Oconee where they may have a lake house.

However flooding issues in Covington Georgia during winter and spring months is starting to change how people look at flooding in Covington Georgia.

Before we can look at the flooding that has occurred we need to know the flood zones in the area.

Like most areas outside the coast Covington Georgia has three main flood zones.

  1. Flood zone X
  2. Flood zone A
  3. Flood zone AE

Flood zone X is the non mandatory flood zone where flood insurance is not required. The majority of Covington GA and Newton county fall within this area.

 

Flood zone A which is considered to be the special flood hazard area but normally doesn't have a base flood elevation includes areas like West Clark Street and Bob Williams Parkway.

 

Flood zone AE which is considered to be the special flood hazard area as well but has a base flood elevation includes areas like Main Street in Porterdale along the Yellow River. This also includes what is known as the Lofts.

So now that we know the three main flood zones for Covington and Newton county Georgia. Let's look at when flooding is likely to occur in the area.

You generally have two times a year where flooding becomes an issue but they normally occur for different reasons. In the winter months you normally have frontal systems that stall out for several days dropping a lot of rain over those days. Then in the spring you have flash flooding that occurs normally from a lot of rainfall from severe thunderstorms.

The flooding that is occurring right now in Covington Georgia is a direct result of a frontal system stalling out dropping several inches over the course of a few days.

However what is magnifying this problem is December was extremely wet keeping water tables and rivers like the Yellow River full.

yr photo

As a result this additional rainfall simply has no where to go.

An area that has seen this happen time and time again is the Riverside RV park along the Yellow River.

riverside

In December 2015 Covington Georgia saw significant flooding along highway 278 as a result of the same kind of system.

So when these systems come through Covington Georgia what can you do to protect yourself?

Well the first step is knowing your flood zone. Know if you live in a special flood hazard area and the history of flooding in that area.

The next thing is to always carry flood insurance, but i thought that I could only get flood insurance if it was required by my bank?

This is one of the biggest myths about flood insurance. It's also one of the things that flood victims in Houston Texas, Nebraska City Nebraska, and Tulsa Oklahoma knew before losing everything to a flood in 2019.

So what are the flood insurance options in Covington Georgia?

It's important to understand that all parts of Newton county participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. So this means that NFIP and private flood insurance are available.

So who qualifies for what?

Since this is a participating community everyone qualifies for the National Flood Insurance Program.You really have 7 NFIP communities in the Covington area.

  1. Newton county
  2. City of Porterdale
  3. City of Mansfield
  4. City of Oxford
  5. City of Covington
  6. City of Newborn
  7. City of Social Circle

Areas like Riverside RV park that received repeated flooding may have this as their only option.

Generally one of the things that can disqualify you for private flood insurance in Covington Georgia are claims. Some carriers only care if there have been claims within the last 5 years and others will disqualify you if there has ever been a claim on the property.

Something else thats important to know is that you may only qualify for private flood insurance if you have a non FHA loan. FHA is the only loan type in Covington GA that requires all flood insurance to go through the National Flood Insurance Program.

So what about coverages?

There can be a big difference in coverages between the National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurance. One difference is the National Flood Insurance Program maxes residential building coverage out at $250,000 while private flood can go into the millions.

It's important to know that since NFIP maxes residential coverage out at $250,000 that banks can not currently require more coverage than that per structure.

So what about protecting your belongings? Thats one of the biggest things we hear from flood victims everyday. They say what cost me so much money was replacing my belongings.

The National Flood Insurance Program maxes personal belongings coverage out at $100,000 while private flood insurance generally will offer up to $500,000 in most situations.

So we have discussed what flood insurance options are available in Covington Georgia? The real question everybody wants to know is how long do i have to wait.

It's not uncommon for people to wait until its flooding to try to obtain flood insurance. However most people are unaware of the different wait periods. There is really only one situation where there is no wait period for flood insurance and that is when it is for a loan closing.

Outside of this the National Flood Insurance Program has a standard 30 day wait period. Private flood insurance companies generally have a wait period that ranges from 5 to 15 days.

So it's important to understand that if you wait until its flooding in Covington Georgia or other areas of newton county to get flood insurance then it might be too late.

We mentioned what else you can do to prepare earlier. One thing is understanding your flood insurance policy. You may have loss avoidance built into your policy.

This helps reimburse up to a $1000 for preventative measures like putting sand bags around your property or moving belongings to higher ground.

So maybe you have more questions about other flood prone areas in Covington Georgia or Newton county? Maybe you want to see what flood insurance options are available to you? Then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

 

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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

 

Clogged Drains, Interstates, and homes, what in the world do these things have in common?

Well glad you asked they are all connected by FLOODING!

Boat over Marajo Canal in Belem do Para, Brazil

Flooding has occurred in 2019 and 2020 on interstates and communities as a result of clogged drains. The flooding in these communities has started to have a major impact on property owners. We want to discuss two particular scenarios and how the flooding could have been prevented.

Let's look at drainage issues that have occurred in Germantown Tennessee, Toledo Ohio, Augusta Georgia, and Houston Texas.

Then let's review how interstate flooding is occurring and the impact it is having on communities.

The first area we want to look at is Germantown Tennessee. This area suffered severe flooding in June 2019 the way water came rushing in and rushing out raised alot of questions. According to WMC 5 action News water went down so rapidly that it was like a stopper had been pulled out of a tub.

So what exactly caused the flooding in this part of Germantown?

It was a combination of heavy rainfall and drainage systems. More than 10 inches of rain was received which caused flash flooding across the area and it seems that the drainage infrastructure of the area created an even larger disaster.

Let's get one thing straight 10 inches of rain within a short amount of time could overwhelm any system. However the concern here that residents have is they have received this amount of rainfall in the past with no flash flooding issues. They had complained about drainage issues up until the week before the flooding occurred. The fact that the water left the home almost as fast as it entered the home clearly showed something failed with the drainage systems.

The problem with many drainage systems is they were built 50-60 years ago and they simply aren't built to carry that amount of water away that fast.

This is an issue that Augusta Georgia faced in 2019 when it faced drainage problems from flooding. According to WRDW.com basically the older city areas we do have where it takes time for the system to carry the water because it's an older system.So whether it was clogged drains or simply the system being overwhelmed, what is clear is the importance of keeping these drains clear and up to date.

Another stress that is put on drainage systems is when it's time for the water to leave. You have areas like Houston Texas that seem to face this issue on a regular basis. According to The Atlantic when this water hits areas like sidewalks and parking lots you no longer control where the water goes. So this water ends up where the grade takes it which normally is low lying areas creating more of an issue for drainage systems to deal with, so it can be a design problem for many areas.

As Toledo Ohio has shown us with their historic flooding from drainage issues that something has to be done.

What can be done?

Most people think that it takes 10 inches of rain like what occurred in Germantown but many of the flood issues in Toledo have come from less than 2 inches of rain within a short amount of time.

Thankfully areas like Toledo are looking at measures to reduce the impact that drainage systems can have on flooding. Some of these measures include decreasing combined sewer and stormwater overflows

Now let's look at how these clogged drains can impact the transportation infrastructure of a major city.

Round storm drain, off center, surrounded by garden stones

Flooding on interstates has become a bigger problem over the years. You had interstates completely submerged during flooding in Macon Georgia in the 90's. It was the first time where every interstate system going into a city was cutoff by water.

Downtowntown Atlanta, Georgia Skyline.

You have the constant drainage issues that occur in Houston after heavy rains. Then there is I-285 in Atlanta Georgia being shut down multiple times in 2020 as a result of flooding.

So whats the issue here?

Are the drainage systems or clogged drains to blame here?

Maybe and Maybe not.

In the situation with Atlanta each time the interstate has been closed it was a result of clogged drains. The city is working on resolutions to make sure this doesn't happen.

However in the situation with Macon Georgia and Houston Texas there simply was so much water that there simply wasn't anywhere for it to go. Houston has experienced this at least twice in the last 5 years with hurricane Harvey and tropical storm Imelda both ranking as some of the wettest storms in history.

So what can be done to make outcomes like this do not occur again?

Row of concrete conduits on construction site

The constant development of new drainage systems in major metropolitan areas is a first step however as you can imagine these are not cheap or short processes. It takes many years of studying the data to see the impacts financially and environmentally.

So we have looked at drainage systems and clogged drains and the impacts they are having on communities and transportation. However what about your own home?

Are you responsible for the drainage issues on your property or is it a community issue?

It kind of falls on both parties to help mitigate the risk of flooding in these areas. Where you start to see an issue in many situations is when new development or construction starts to take place in your area. It is up to the local community to help hold developers responsible for the possible flooding issues they maybe creating. When it comes to the day to day drainage systems issues on your local property a few steps can go along way.

Like keeping your gutters clear of debris and leaves the same thing can be said for stormwater drains on your property. When these drains are not properly managed they can easily redirect water where it should not be going.

So maybe you have further questions about drainage issues on your property and who is responsible? Maybe you want to make sure your are properly protected with flood insurance? Then make sure to visit our website to get more information on these things. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do daily flood education videos or even check out our podcast.

 

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 you think of coastal flooding what comes to mind?

You are probably thinking about a million dollar beach house right on the water some where in Florida being washed away.

This is the picture that the media has painted for most flood disasters. So its no surprise that when you mention coastal flooding and lake flooding on the great lakes together people look at you like you are crazy.

One explanation for these is everybody associates coastal flooding with oceans and beaches. It brings up the decades long debate on do places like the great lakes really have beaches or a coastline?

perfect sky and water of indian ocean

Lets look at what a coastline and a beach are defined as, first off according to Webster dictionary a coastline is a line that forms the boundary between the land and the ocean or a lake.

According to Websters dictionary a beach is a shore of a body of water covered by sand.

young people group have fun and play beach volleyball at sunny summer day

Now that we understand what a coastline and a beach are it should settle the great debate if the great lakes have a coastline or beach.

So lets take a look at what is changing the landscape of the great lakes and possibly setting up the greatest coastal flooding disaster in 2020.

The great lakes area as well as the rest of the United States had one of the wettest years on record in 2019. Flooding occurred in areas that had not this type of flooding in decades.

End of a public beach along Lake Michigan

You had areas like Nebraska city that were flooded as a result of spring storms and snowmelt.

The state of Iowa had more than $2 billion in flood damage in 2019 and the city of Tulsa was shut down for weeks with flooding on the Arkansas river.

So what about the great lakes area how was it impacted by all this rain fall?

Well there are areas like Marquette, Houghton Lake, and Muskegon that were more than 6 inches above their normal rainfall average. This excessive rainfall continued all the way until the end of the year putting areas like Lake Michigan more than 6 feet higher than its normal average.

The problem is with this amount of rainfall is the water in the ground has nowhere to go and the streams and rivers that it normally runs off to are still full.

An already wet January in areas like eastern Michigan and the city of Chicago have shown us the potential disaster that is setting up for 2020.

Boaters view of Chicago skyline in summer

On Jan 11 2020 Chicago saw waves more than 20 feet high flooding areas like Southern Shores and Rogers Park. Streets crumbled from the pressure of the flood water, cars were washed away and water started to enter homes.

The potential flooding disaster for the great lakes area is setting up for something similar that we saw on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in 2019.

These areas had a very wet 2019 it was one storm after another combined with record snow pack areas. You had areas like Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota that seemed to have flood warnings for 6 months.

Something else that started to occur in 2019 in some of these great lakes area was coastal erosion. Much of these areas use sand dunes to protect against coastal flooding and with this erosion that protection is gone.

Tidal channel along sandy beach after sunrise on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

As 2020 gets wetter and wetter areas along the great lakes like Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland have a greater risk for this coastal and lake flooding.

So what can be done to help prevent or at least minimize this flooding?

Well keeping things like your gutters cleaned out and making sure run off spouts go away from the property are just a few tips.

Man cleaning the gutter from autumn leaves

If you have flood insurance check your policy for loss avoidance. Loss avoidance will reimburse up to a $1000 for preventative measures like filling sand bags and moving property to higher ground.

Something else thats important to understand is the different risk each of the flood zones brings with it. While special flood hazard areas also known as flood zone A or AE do have a greater risk, its important to understand that even if you are not in a mandatory flood zone does not mean your property will not flood.

The outdated flood mapping process has given many people sense of false security. Just ask the 80% of flood victims in Houston during Hurricane Harvey that were told they did not need flood insurance or the many people along the Arkansas river that lost everything in 2019.

Many of these people were also told that flood insurance was not available. If you live in the great lakes area its important to understand that as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program then flood insurance is available for you.

So what if your community does not participate?

Well there might still be flood insurance options available. Lets discuss what two flood insurance options are available in the great lakes area and the Chicago area.

There is the National Flood Insurance Program and then there is the private flood insurance market.

So who qualifies for what?

As mentioned before as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program then you have access to flood insurance through that program. You may also have access to private flood insurance which could provide more coverage at up to 40% less on price.

So do you qualify for private flood insurance in areas like Chicago, Cleveland, or even Toledo?

Well it depends if you have a loan on the property or if there have been flood claims on the property in the past. If you have an FHA loan then the only option currently available for you is the National Flood Insurance Program, you can get a quote by clicking here. If you have another loan type then you have access to the private flood insurance market, you can get a quote by clicking here.

So what about flood insurance claims on the property?

Well some private flood insurance companies will automatically disqualify you if there has ever been a flood claim on the property. Others only look back 5 years on flood insurance claims. Its important when getting a flood insurance quote that you ask these questions. If a claim occurs it could be declined if it is discovered that the property had claims.

So if you want to learn more about how to prevent flooding in the great lakes area then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page. You can also tune into our podcast to learn more about mitigating your property against flooding.

 

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

 

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So you have been in the business as a realtor for a few years. You have just listed your first home of the new year only to find out its in a special flood hazard area in Huntsville Alabama. Home inventory is already at a 20 year low in the area, so all you need is more challenges. You have never had a listing in this type of area before, so what are you suppose to do?

Well lets discuss the first steps you should take when you find this out. The first thing is verify if there is an active flood policy on the property and the next thing is to verify the flood map. Now if its an investment property or the mortgage is paid off its not uncommon for there not to be a policy.

So let's say you are on the lucky side and find out that the current property owners do have a flood policy on the property. Now you want to find out if it is a National Flood Insurance Program policy also known as a FEMA policy.

Wait I thought the only option for flood insurance in Huntsville Alabama was FEMA?

Hold that thought we will discuss flood insurance options in Huntsville and Florence Alabama a little bit later on.

So you find out it is a FEMA policy that is on the property. The first thing you want to do is reach out to the insurance agent to see if the policy is transferable.

Now it could be that the policy is through what is called a write your own carrier or NFIP Direct either way you should be able to get this answer. Now it's not uncommon for many insurance agents to know if a policy is transferrable or not.

What is a transferrable flood policy?

This is a flood insurance policy that can be transferred from one buyer to the next keeping the rate locked in and sometimes allowing the buyer to wait until renewal to make a payment.

Now if it's an investor who is selling the property and someone is buying it as a primary residence then more than likely the policy can't be transferred. It has to be the same type of policy that is being transferred, whether its for a primary or non primary residence.

So you have gotten your ducks in a row and you know if the policy is transferrable or not.

The second thing you want to do is verify the flood map. Why you might ask the flood policy is there so we know its required?

Well properties being in the wrong flood zone is not uncommon. So you can click here to verify where the property is located on the flood map. It could be that the actual structure is not in the special flood hazard area after all or that the map recently changed.

If the map has changed within the last 12 months it could be that the property qualifies for special newly mapped rates.

It looking at this map if you are in an area outside the coast you want to look for three different zones, zone X, A, and AE.

 

 

If the property is in zone X then flood insurance should not be required but if its in A or AE then it will be in whats considered the special flood hazard area.

Remember earlier when we mentioned we would discuss flood insurance options later? Well lets discuss those options.

The majority of people across the Huntsville Alabama area think there is only one option for flood insurance.

This simply isn't true, you have two options for flood insurance in the Huntsville, Athens, Madison, and Florence Alabama areas.

You can choose to go through the National Flood Insurance Program like many people do or you can choose to go through the private flood insurance market.

There is no wrong answer here but if decide to go through the National Flood Insurance Program you will want to be prepared for what will be needed. If the property is in this A or AE zone and the it was built after the first flood map which is normally around 1982 there is going to be some documentation that is needed.

You are going to have to provide photos of each side of the house and an elevation certificate.

What is an elevation certificate?

This a certificate that is provided by a surveyor or engineer that shows the different elevations of the home compared to the base flood elevation. This will determine how cheap or how expensive your flood insurance will be.

So what does something like this cost in the Huntsville Alabama area?

These certificates usually cost between $500-$700 you can order one by clicking here.

Now that you have an understanding of what documentation will be needed for the National Flood Insurance Program, what documentation will be needed for private flood insurance?

The good news is most private flood insurance companies do not require photos or elevation certificates. This can be a big savings right off the bat, but private flood insurance can also be up to 40% cheaper than the National Flood Insurance Program.

One reason is private flood insurance companies in Huntsville and Florence Alabama use different technology to map risk in these areas. As a result they can get more accurate ratings than the National Flood Insurance Program.

So does every property owner in Huntsville qualify for private flood insurance?

No they do not

As long as you don't have a FHA loan then your bank should allow you to take out a private flood insurance policy. If you have an FHA loan then you will be required to go through the National Flood Insurance Program.

So we have talked about what to do when you find out your listing in Huntsville or Florence Alabama is in a special flood hazard area, to verify the flood map, and what the flood insurance options are in the area.

Maybe you have more questions then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page 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

 

 

Almost everyone has heard that all flood insurance is the same and it all goes through FEMA. While technically this is not true because there is the National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurance markets.

Today we want to talk about some different ways that you can obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

There basically two ways to obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program

  1. Write Your Own companies
  2. NFIP Direct

There is no wrong way to obtain flood insurance, the only bad decision is not getting it at all. So we want to discuss the benefits of each one of these paths.

Electrical outlet reflected in floodwater in office

Let's discuss what a Write Your Own carrier is? The guidelines they must follow and a list of companies that participate?

First of a Write Your Own carrier also known as (WYO) is participating property and casualty insurance companies to write and service the standard flood policies in their own names.

It's important to remember while these carriers are writing these policies FEMA still retains the responsibility for underwriting losses. Since this is still part of the National Flood Insurance Program there are strict guidelines that must be followed.

Some of those guidelines are as follows

  1. Policy administration
  2. Claims processing
  3. Reports
  4. Operations plan
  5. Time standards
  6. Policy issuance
  7. Discontinue of policies when NFIP is not authorized
  8. Keep flood insurance funds separate from company funds
  9. The Company must investigate, adjust, settle, and defend all claims or losses arising from policies issued under this Arrangement. Payment of flood insurance claims by the Company bind FEMA, subject to appeal.
  10. Compliance with Agency Standards and Guidelines.
  11. Compliance with Appeals Process
  12. Other Flood Insurance. If the Company also offers flood insurance outside of the NFIP in any geographic area in which Program authorizes the purchase of flood insurance, the Company must:
    1. Ensure that all public communications (whether written, recorded, electronic, or other) regarding non-NFIP flood insurance lines would not lead a reasonable person to believe that the NFIP, FEMA, or the Federal Government in any way endorses, sponsors, oversees, regulates, or otherwise has any connection with the non-NFIP flood insurance line. The Company may assure compliance with this requirement by prominently including in such communications the following statement: “This insurance product is not affiliated with the National Flood Insurance Program.”
    2. Ensure that data related to this Arrangement are not used to further or support the Company's non-NFIP flood insurance lines
      Governance on Blue Puzzle on White Background.

While this is not all the guidelines you can see that NFIP has strict guidelines for participating in this program. According to FEMA this program was set up in 1983 with three goals in mind

  1. Increase the NFIP policy base and the geographic distribution of policies
  2. Improve service to NFIP policyholders through the infusion of insurance industry knowledge
  3. Provide the insurance industry with direct operating experience with flood insurance

The WYO program has come along way since 1983 its important that you know what companies participate so you are protected.

There are more than 55 different companies that participate in this program and you can find the list here.

Two women and team work in big storehouse

As you can see there can be some great benefits to this program like dealing directly with your existing insurance company for your flood insurance policy, dealing with an experienced company during the claims process, and also having a good experience when making payments or changes.

So now that we have looked at WYO let's discuss what NFIP direct is and some of its benefits?

NFIP Direct is the system that FEMA has built where agents can directly access the NFIP without going through a WYO carrier. Payments, claims processing, and policy issuance are just a few things the system does.

One of the negatives of using NFIP Direct is if someone who doesn't have flood training or experience can struggle with using it. This is one of the major benefits of using a WYO. This is also one reason why many agents who can only access NFIP Direct sell less flood insurance than those who access a WYO.

You can call it intimidation or just a headache like many agents do.

So is there any benefit for the consumer?

Business man pointing the text Customer Experience

Whether the customer decides to use a WYO or NFIP Direct then the rates and claims processing should be the same. You may just have a better experience with a WYO because of the way they communicate.

So is there a benefit to the agent?

There are usually a few benefits first of all commissions are normally higher through a WYO compared to going through NFIP Direct. There are also normally a lot more opportunities to learn the system and get the support that you need as an agent.

So whether you access WYO or NFIP Direct whats important is that you have a policy in place. According to the FEMA podcast the last 10 years have shown a steady decrease in the amount of active flood insurance policies and a steady increase in the amount of claims filed.

So if you have questions about either one of these platforms then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page. You can also tune into our daily podcast.

 

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

 

 

Texas has seen its fair share of flood disasters over the last 5 years. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 devastated the city of Houston flooding many commercial properties that were told they were not in a flood zone. Then there was tropical storm Imelda in 2019 that brought almost just as much rain fall as Harvey. Commercial properties even flooded during Imelda that didn't flood during Harvey.

 

photo-1561702469-c4239ced3f47

While these two disasters could be considered two of the top flood disasters in the last 25 years is this enough reason for commercial flood insurance companies to take a one way ticket out of town?

Since Harvey private flood insurance companies have really been limiting their exposure in areas like Houston and Galveston Texas. However now we are starting to see this limitation across the state of Texas. Other flood disasters like the flooding in Oklahoma and Nebraska have put even more pressure on them as they try to manage the commercial flood risk properly.

This is one of the big differences between the National Flood Insurance Program and private flood insurance companies. The National Flood Insurance Program also known as NFIP is backed by FEMA and is not built on profitability like private flood insurance companies are designed to be.

For this reason you will not see NFIP pulling out of areas after a flood or limiting policies. The NFIP was designed to provide flood insurance to property owners as long as the community participates in the NFIP.

So what about those communities in Texas that do not participate?

What flood insurance options are available for them?

These particular communities only have access to private flood insurance so when these options start to become limited it can have a major impact on these non participating communities and businesses.

So what else could be scaring away commercial private flood insurance companies in Texas? Well there are two things we want to discuss

  1. Flood maps
  2. Climate change.

Let's look at flood maps first, flood maps being updated is no short process. A flood insurance study report has to be done which can take several years to complete and then FEMA and local communities have to agree on the new maps. This is one of the major issues that occurred in Houston and Harris county Texas. When hurricane Harvey hit new flood maps had not been agreed upon and many areas that were showing low risk should have been high risk.

As a result 85% of the properties that flooded during hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance. One reason was the misbelief that they were in a low risk flood zone where it really should have been a special flood hazard area where flood insurance is required.

Another area that was the victim of flood maps was Baton Rogue Louisiana during there famous flood in 2016. Right before this flood many areas had been moved to low risk flood zones and the mandatory requirement for flood insurance had been removed.

As a result many property owners did not have flood insurance as they had just cancelled it.

These are only two scenarios but there are many more we can look at where flood maps are creating false security. You see the water is not going to knock on your door and ask to come in.

As you can imagine this inaccurate mapping process would scare any flood company. Thankfully new technology has helped private flood insurance companies get a more accurate risk on these flood prone areas. This is also one reason why so many of these low risk flood zones have better ratings with NFIP than private flood insurance companies. The private flood insurance companies can see the true risk and rate it correctly.

So what else might be running commercial flood insurance companies out of town?

Well its two words that no body wants to discuss which is climate change.

We aren't necessarily talking about global warming but instead how patterns can change for certain areas. Looking at Harvey and Imelda you can clearly see that these two storms dumped more rain than most hurricanes. According to Live Science Imelda was one of the wettest storms in U.S. history.

However let's look at some other areas of the country to get a true comparison. The Nebraska, Iowa, and Oklahoma flooding saw one storm after another early in 2019 causing wide spread flooding for several months.

North Alabama saw the same thing happen in 2019 when power companies could not handle the amount of water coming through their managed water sources causing flooding in low risk areas like Florence Alabama.

In 2020 we are starting to see the same thing occur in North Alabama again as they are expected to get hit with a rainstorm that will drop more than 3 inches of rain for the third time in 3 weeks.

It's important to understand that currently climate change is not factor in flood insurance rates. Its something that is being reviewed for NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 in 2021, but there are no guarantees it will be implemented.

So then what happens when you have inaccurate flood maps and climate change that you can not necessarily forecast. You have an unpredictable flood risk model that makes it very difficult for companies to manage risk properly.

As a result you have companies moving out of those areas or best case scenario limiting the amount of business they do in these areas.

Generally the first thing they start to do is limit areas within 5 miles of the coast and then coverage amounts. This can make commercial flood insurance very difficult to find as most banks require $500,000 on each special flood hazard area property.

Now as mapping improves, technology improves, and climate change forecasting improves you may start to see more private flood insurance options available in areas like Houston Texas. However for the time being expect to see options become more limited until these things happen. Some important things to look at in these areas are mitigation efforts you done to the property to help minimize the risk.

Maybe you have put flood vents on your property, maybe you have dry proofed the property, or even raised the building. These are all factors that could give you more flood insurance options.

So if you want to know what your flood insurance options are in Texas or how your mitigation efforts might impact your flood insurance options then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do daily flood education videos. You can also tune into our daily flood podcast.

 

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

So you have that family heirloom that has been in the family for years. It was passed down through your family over the last 100 years and is priceless to you.

Simple sign hanging outside old brick building with antiques shop

It might not be priceless if you have a flood insurance claim?

Antique coverage on a flood insurance policy can be very shocking, especially after a claim. Many people do not realize that FEMA uses functional value on these items.

So that family heirloom might just be worth $50 instead of the $5000 you think it's worth.

A close-up picture of a cute young surprised, unhappy, puzzled woman, girl holding an empty wallet, isolated  on a white background

First let's define what an antique is and how it might be different from something like fur?

An antique is a collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age.

Antique coverage works a little bit differently than something like fur. Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs are only covered up to $2500, while antiques have functional value.

So let's discuss a scenario where coverage is paid out on antiques.

We recently had a customer come to us from Texas after a flood insurance claim. They had a $100,000 in contents coverage but only received $15,000 from FEMA. They could not figure out why the check was so low. The owner was in tears as she sat there looking at belongings knowing she could not replace them for $15,000. They had paid all this money for the last twenty years only to be shocked that they didn't have the coverage they thought they did.

You see about 90% of the things that were destroyed in this home were antiques that had been in the family for years. So while these things were worth alot of money and even more memories to the property owner, they were worth very little to FEMA.

The reason is as we mentioned before FEMA uses functional value.

So what exactly is functional value?

Well let's use your great grandmothers jewelry box for example. It's been in the family for over 100 years and it's worth alot of money. However if its destroyed by flood what are you getting?

Happy beautiful young woman opening jewelery gift box

You are going to get what it would cost to buy a regular jewelry box with the same dimensions.

As you can imagine this can be a major disappointment.

This is one of the biggest surprises most property owners have during the National Flood Insurance Program flood claim process.

So what exactly can you do to get that antique covered?

You could look for a specific policy that would cover it but most have flood as an exclusion.

What we normally recommend is keeping items like this at higher ground so that they are hopefully the last item to be destroyed. Whether you have a private flood insurance policy or a National Flood Insurance program policy we recommend reading the personal property very closely about how claims are paid out.

As we have discussed today antique coverage can be confusing because if a claim occurs you aren't really sure what you are going to get, but you know it won't be what the item is worth to you.

If you have further questions about flood insurance for antiques make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our YouTube channel or Facebook page where we do our 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

 

Flood insurance can be confusing for anyone but especially if you don't deal with it everyday. When it comes to mortgage companies it's not unusual for underwriters to be the only ones that deal with this issue on a daily basis.

We want to talk about three things loan officers should know when it comes to flood insurance.

  1. Flood zones
  2. Flood insurance options available
  3. Policy transfers

As you can imagine flood insurance can have a big impact on things like debt to income ratios. It's not uncommon for flood insurance to stop a buyer from purchasing a property. Sometimes the buyer either can't afford it or buying in a special flood hazard area just scares them. It's important to understand when flood insurance is required and when it isn't. We are going to discuss which flood zones require flood insurance and which ones don't.

  1. Flood zone X
  2. Flood zone A
  3. Flood zone AE
  4. Flood zone V
  5. Flood zone VE

While these are not all the flood zones they are the most common types.

So which ones require flood insurance and which ones don't?

Let's start with flood zone X this whats called a minimal risk area where flood insurance is not required. This zone does normally offer the best flood insurance rates because it is a lower risk.

 

Flood zone A and AE are both in whats called the 100 year flood zone. If a mortgage is being carried flood insurance will be required in these zones. The difference between these two zones is normally zone A does not have a base flood elevation.

 

 

Flood zone V and VE are going to be coastal areas that are at risk of tide flooding. These two zones will also require flood insurance and will normally have the highest rates because of the distance to water.

So now we know when flood insurance is required and when it is not what options are available?

There are basically two flood insurance available but they are not available to everyone.

The flood insurance options really depend on the type of loan the customer is doing. As of July 1, 2019 the FDIC passed a law allowing private flood insurance on all loan types accept for FHA loans. As long as the private flood insurance meets the same requirement as the National Flood Insurance Program.

Lets talk about some differences in these options. First we will discuss the residential coverages with a National Flood Insurance Program policy.

 

National Flood Insurance Program

The National Flood Insurance Program is the FEMA program or government funded flood insurance program. No matter where you go for coverage rates should be the same. When it comes to building coverage they max out coverages at $250,000 and a $100,000 on contents. There is no additional living expenses provided under the National Flood Insurance Program. Because of the way rates are determined the National Flood Insurance Program can offer some pretty high rates. So what is the other option?

 

Private Flood Insurance Program

Private flood insurance is backed by private insurance companies who set their own rates based on multiple factors. They use some different technology that can help reduce flood insurance rates by more than 40%. Unlike the National Flood Insurance Program they do not limit building coverage to $250,000 or contents coverage to $100,000. Private flood insurance also offers additional living expenses so if your home floods you could have a temporary place to go while it is prepared.

Now that we know what flood insurance options are available lets discuss the third thing that loan officers should know when it comes to flood insurance.

 

Policy Transfer

So what is a policy transfer?

A policy transfer is when a flood insurance policy is transferred from one buyer to the next.

 

What are some benefits to doing this?

Let's say that the current property owner has had this policy for several years on a flood zone that is no longer available. Then this would be what is called a grandfathered policy.

 

By doing a policy transfer in this situation it guarantees that this rate will continue as long as the policy does not lapse at all.

Another benefit to doing a policy transfer is how easy it is, there usually is just one sheet of paper the buyer and seller has to pay.

You could also be in the situation like I was many years ago where I had already paid the flood insurance up front, so the new buyer did not have to pay any flood insurance premiums until renewal.

As you can see understanding what a policy transfer is and its benefits is very important.

We have talked about flood zones, flood insurance options, and policy transfers and how its important for the loan officers to understand these three things. Understanding these three things can help save headaches when that file gets to the underwriters desk.

Maybe you have additional questions about these three things or your buyer has additional questions then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or our Facebook page. You can also check out our podcast.

 

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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

 

 

Today we are talking about the upcoming flood map changes for the San Diego area. We want to discuss a few things

  1. Flood zones in the area
  2. Why the update
  3. When is update happening
  4. Who is being impacted
  5. Can you fight it
  6. What are the flood insurance options in San Diego area

View of the beach from the pier in Oceanside, California.

Before we talk about all the different impacts lets talk about the different flood zones in the area. San Diego has pretty much every flood zone that is available.

The first flood zone for the area is flood zone X. This is a non mandatory area that is considered minimal risk. Many parts of the city of San Diego and San Diego county fall within this zone. One reason is some properties sit more than 50 feet above sea level.

The next flood zone is the area is flood zone A. This area falls within what is called the 100 year flood zone but does not have a base flood elevation. Areas near Turf road and the San Diego Freeway fall within this area.

The next flood zone is flood zone AE these areas fall within the 100 year flood zone but do have a base flood elevation. Areas that fall within this type of zone are parts of San Diego and De Mar that are along the San Dieguito River from 24th to 28th street.

The last two zones for the area are whats called coastal zones. These are flood zone v1 to v30 and VE. The only difference in these areas is VE has a base flood elevation while v1 to v30 does not. These are going to be the zones with the highest premiums. These are areas that are oceanfront along ocean street and any other areas.

Now that we understand the flood maps in the San Diego area lets talk about why the flood map changes?

FEMA does flood insurance studies from time to time to better understand the risk in the area. In 2017 FEMA completed this study and according to the San Diego Union Tribune some parts of San Diego county had a difference of 6 feet from the previous flood maps.

So when are these changes taking place?

The new flood maps for San Diego county go into effect on December 20, 2019.

Now let's get back to who will be impacted.

Roughly 3500 people will be moved from non mandatory flood zones to mandatory flood zones. Roughly 500 property owners will be moved from low risk to high risk zones.

Why such a large impact?

As we mentioned before this recent study showed same major exposures for the area that have drastically impacted the base flood elevation. Many of these areas being impacted will be in the Del Mar area.

One explanation is that many parts of Del Mar like the 17th street level are much closer to sea level. Many of these areas are being moved from an AE zone to a VE zone which will have a significant impact on flood insurance premiums. This will impact people in two areas.

  1. Mortgage payments
  2. Property values

As these premiums increase it will cause the escrow accounts for many people to drastically increase. This will make mortgage payments much higher so if these are investment properties this could really eat away at the profitability of these properties.

The next area that could have a big impact is property values. Let's say its only ocean front properties on the southside of Del Mar that are placed in the higher risk zone. This could cause a big drop in property values for the southside.

So the big question is can you fight it?

While you can fight it you want to make sure you have a chance at winning your case before wasting the time or money. Here at the Flood Insurance Guru we have an educational background in flood mitigation, so we can help people with this each day.

When looking at fighting flood zone changes in the San Diego area there are two things you want to pay attention to.

  1. Base flood elevation
  2. Lowest adjacent grade

These two things go together like peanut butter and jelly. If your lowest adjacent grade is below the base flood elevation then you are pretty much stuck in that zone. However if your lowest adjacent grade is above the base flood elevation then you may have an opportunity to get the property remove from the new flood zone helping keep your property values high. If you want to look at getting a property removed click below.

So let's say you can't get the flood zone changed in San Diego or Del Mar California, then what are the flood insurance options?

 

When it comes to flood insurance options in the San Diego area there are two options available.

  1. National Flood Insurance Program
  2. Private flood insurance

Let's discuss the National Flood Insurance Program also known as NFIP first. The NFIP program is the government based flood insurance program that is available to anyone who lives in a participating community. Let's discuss some features of the program before discussing the two options available through this program.

 

National Flood Insurance Program

  1. Max residential coverage of $250,000
  2. Max residential contents coverage of $100,000
  3. No additional living expenses available
  4. No replacement cost on contents

 

Under the National Flood Insurance Program in San Diego there are two options available when a map change takes place.

  1. New mapped rates
  2. Standard flood insurance policy

Newly mapped rates apply to areas that have received new flood maps in the San Diego area. The popular ones are when areas have been moved from flood zone X to flood zone A or AE. FEMA offers special rates for these situations for the first 12 months and after that rates start to rise to adjust to the risk. These newly mapped areas also only have a 1 day wait period. It's important to know as of now if you take out a flood policy before the map change it locks you into the current zone.

This is important to know because this could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Successful businessman holding dollars - isolated over a white background

Now what about the standard flood policy? This is your traditional policy with a 30 day wait period. It's important to understand that these rates have already adjusted to the risk so they can be much higher than newly mapped areas. So its important to understand when your map is changing.

Now let's look at the other option which is private flood insurance. There are multiple options available in the San Diego area. Below are some features of private flood insurance.

  1. Residential building coverage up to $10 million
  2. Residential contents coverage up to %1 million
  3. Replacement cost on contents available
  4. Additional living expenses available

As you can see there are some big differences between NFIP and private flood insurance. An additional difference is the pricing many times private flood insurance can be up to 50% less because different technology is used to determine rates.

So we have discussed why the maps are changing, who is being impacted, can you fight it, and what flood insurance options are available in the San Diego and Delmar area.

If you have further questions about how these changes will impact you 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. You can also tune into our podcast where we discuss flood issues and map changes across the country.

 

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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

 

In this video we are discussing the October 2019 flood map changes for Marion county and Columbia Mississippi.

Get a better understanding of the three options available

 

  1. The National Flood Insurance Program
     
    1. Newly Mapped Policy- 1 day wait period
    2. Standard Flood Policy- 30 day wait period
  2. Private Flood Insurance

  3. Letter of Map Change

 

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