Protect Your Home from Flooding: Part 1
Do I need flood insurance in Carrollton, Georgia?
Many of us watched in dismay as record rainfall resulting from Hurricane Harvey brought record flooding to Houston, Texas. For some, the news reports brought back memories of recent flooding in Carrollton, Carroll County, and West Georgia.
Heavy rain on Christmas Eve 2015 caused flooding in several parts of Carrollton. A portion of Oak Grove Church Road caved in due to flood damage. The student parking lot at Carrollton High School’s Grisham Stadium flooded, as did the school’s tennis courts. Portions of the Carrollton GreenBelt along Hay’s Mill Road were closed. So were portions of Bankhead Highway due to Lake Carroll overflowing its banks. The Times-Georgian reported that several homes were flooded as well. (Click here to view a slideshow from the Times-Georgian of local flooding).
In September 2009 seven people, including a 2-year-old Carroll County boy, lost their lives when heavy rains caused severe flooding in Carroll, Douglas, and Chattooga counties. Two others in the Atlanta area were killed in the same event. Dozens of homes and apartments were flooded as heavy rains fell on the area.
Loss of life is certainly the most devastating effect of a flood event. However, losing one’s home and possessions is traumatic and finding out that your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover the damage is not good news in the midst of disaster recovery.
Here are some facts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that might make you wonder if your home is adequately protected against the risk of flooding:
FACT: Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year.
FACT: Homeowners and renters insurance typically will not cover flood damage.
FACT: Floods can happen anywhere. More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside the high-risk flood zone.
FACT: Flood insurance can pay regardless of whether or not there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
FACT: Most federal disaster assistance comes in the form of low-interest disaster loans from U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and you have to pay them back. FEMA offers disaster grants that don’t need to be paid back, but this amount is often much less than what is needed to recover. A claim against your flood insurance policy could and often does provide more funds for recovery than those you could qualify for from FEMA or the SBA—and you don’t have to pay it back.
FACT: You may be required to have flood insurance. Congress has mandated federally regulated or insured lenders to require flood insurance on mortgaged properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. But even if your property is not in a high risk flood area, your mortgage lender may still require you to have flood insurance. According to FEMA, one of the goals of the National Flood Insurance Program is to to provide affordable insurance to property owners.
If you’re curious about your county’s flood history, FEMA has an interactive data visualization tool to provide that information. Roll your cursor over each county to see how many flooding events have happened. Another good resource is the National Flood Insurance Program Community Status Book, a listing of all the cities and counties in the United States that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Carrollton, Bremen, Douglasville, and other cities in West Georgia are listed, as are all counties in the region.
It’s important to note that flooding is defined in a couple of different ways that determine how the damage is covered. If your roof leaks from damage from a storm or your pipes rupture and gush, the resulting damage is generally covered under a regular homeowner’s insurance policy. Heavy rains that cause water to overflow bodies of water and move into homes or businesses—damage from that is not covered except by a flood insurance policy written through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Many people think that only those who live in a flood plain are eligible for flood insurance, but that’s not true—almost any homeowner can purchase the insurance, Chris Hackett, director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, told Bankrate.com.
Bankrate also reports that flood policies top out at $250,000 of coverage for your home’s structure and $100,000 of coverage for its contents. Fortunately, not all floods cause a total loss—the average flood claim in the U.S. is $39,000.
Bankrate says the average price for flood insurance is about $660 annually. Prices vary based on a variety of factors, and an agent can help a homeowner choose the best coverage. Bankrate also notes that flood maps can change, so a home that wasn’t in a flood plain when it was constructed could be in a flood plain later. You can find out if your home is in a flood plain at FloodSmart.gov, but Bankrate suggests getting an expert opinion on the danger your home might face. Bankrate also suggests talking to several agents before purchasing a flood insurance policy to make sure you are getting the best protection. (Click here to read Bankrate’s full article “All wet! 6 flood insurance myths debunked.”)
Your Duffey Realty agent is an excellent resource for any questions you have about a home you hope to purchase or a home you hope to sell. Contact us today for help with all your real estate needs. And don’t forget to check out Flood Protection Part 2: How to Protect Yourself from Lying, Cheating Scammers After a Disaster.