Hurricane Ian could result in insured losses as high as $74 billion, according to RMS. Unfortunately, many property owners lack adequate coverage for their homes and businesses, and not all losses are insured. Although Florida may seem very far away to people on the West Coast, flooding and other natural disasters can occur anywhere. Hurricane Ian should be a wakeup call for flood and natural disaster preparedness.
West Coast Flood Risk
Hurricanes are not the only cause of flooding.
According to the California Department of Water Resources, millions of Californians with property along streams, rivers, lakes and coastline are at risk of flooding. It doesn’t take much water to do significant damage, either. Just one foot of flood water can result in damages of $54,000 to a $150,000 single-family home.
Risk Factor says that 23% of properties in California and Oregon and 18% of properties in Washington have a more than 26% chance of being severely impacted by flooding over the next three decades.
Climate Change and Fires Could Increase Flooding Risk
Many Californians are worried about drought. However, a paper published in Science Advances warns that California is also at risk of severe flooding. The research found that the likelihood of an event that could produce catastrophic flooding has already doubled, and continued warming could increase the risk further.
The West Coast’s wildfire problem could also result in a higher risk of flooding. According to FEMA, wildfires can make the ground unable to absorb water. Vegetation might not be restored for around five years, and in the meantime, the area may have a greater risk of flooding.
Protect Your Property from Flooding and Other Natural Disasters
You can take steps to protect your property from the risk of flooding and other natural disasters.
- Know your risk. If you live near a body of water, you may already know that you are at risk of flooding. However, your risk may be greater than you realize. FEMA’s flood maps can show you the risk of flooding in your area. You can also use Risk Factor to see your property’s risks.
- Make improvements to lessen your property’s risks. If your property is at risk of flooding, you may be able to decrease the likelihood of severe damage. FEMA has a number of suggestions, including replacing carpeting with tiles, floodproofing your basement, installing flood vents, investing in a sewer backflow valve, and using flood-resistant insulation and drywall.
- Have an emergency plan ready to go. Make sure that you and everyone in your household or business knows what to do if there is an emergency. Have emergency numbers, evacuation routes and emergency supplies ready.
- Stay alert. Keep an eye on the weather and be ready to take action. You can also sign up for emergency alerts in your area. In California, you can sign up for alerts in your county by providing your mobile phone number and email address.
- Secure insurance coverage. Many property owners lack flood insurance. If a flood causes damage, they will not have insurance coverage for the necessary repairs. Securing flood insurance is an important part of flood and natural disaster preparedness.
Flood Insurance Basics
Your homeowners or commercial property insurance policy provides coverage for certain loss types, but other perils are excluded. In some cases, you can add endorsements or purchase additional coverage to gain coverage.
Water backup damage is typically excluded, but you may be able to secure coverage through an endorsement to your policy.
Flood damage is also excluded from homeowners, commercial property and business owner policy insurance. You can obtain flood insurance by purchasing separate coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There is usually a 30-day waiting period before NFIP coverage goes into effect, so you cannot wait until flooding is eminent to purchase coverage. It’s important to protect your property with suitable coverage before a bad storm causes flooding in your area.
Through the NFIP program, homeowners can secure coverage for up to $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for the contents of the building. Commercial property owners can secure up to $500,000 in coverage for the building and $500,000 in coverage for the contents of the building. Coverage for the building and the contents are purchased separately, and the deductibles are separate, as well.
Private flood insurance is also available.
Protect Your Home or Business
Emergencies can strike at any time, so flood and natural disaster preparedness are critical. If you need suitable insurance coverage for your home or business, Heffernan can help. Contact us.