Changing Weather Patterns Require a Coverage Re-Think
By Virginia Kinneman 8/31/2020
Standard homeowner policies provide reimbursement coverage for a loss from many causes such as theft, fire, and water damage due to burst pipes & leaking appliances, stopped up sinks and broken toilets. It does not cover damage caused by environmental floods. If water comes over the ground through rainstorms that flood your yard or from lakes - streams that overflow their banks, a homeowner’s policy does not cover you, but flood insurance will add that extra layer of protection for just these occurrences. Protecting you from a devastating financial loss necessitates the correct home insurance coverage. Do you have that coverage?
Flooding is defined by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), “as a temporary overflow of water on normally dry land brought on by landslides, hurricanes, earthquakes or other natural disasters.” According to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), even one inch of water can cause $25,000 worth of damage; that all 50 states have experienced floods; and, that more than 20% of claims come from moderate to low risk areas. Clearly, flood insurance is not simply for high-risk locals. Start your research onFEMA’s website where you will easily find theirFlood Map Service Center showing if your address is in a flood zone and what risk level your home/business face. (https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home)
Think about the weather experienced in the Metro area over the past many decades. On average, hurricanes have hit the Metro area twice each decade. Even more often, Mother Nature has reared her head in the form of ruinous tropical storms with damage from flooding reported as often as from wind and fallen objects.
Take a look at 2018. The severity of the flooding was not record breaking yet conditions were primed for flooding by the persistent nature of the rain which fell for 75% of the year. Rainfall was reported by the National Weather Service to be 66.28” up from the norm of 39.74”. The usual suspects of flooded roads and structures lived up to expectations around Woodburn Road at Eakin Park and Leigh Mill Road at Difficult Run.
Alarmingly there were also novel flood occurrences such as the one at Sleepy Hollow Road in Mason District where flooding closed the road while water raged through the parking lot and into the club house & pool at Sleepy Hollow Swim and Racquet Club. Again in July 2019 Fairfax County declared a local emergency due to flash flooding. Cameron Run rose seven feet in thirty minutes after five inches of rain fell in one hour. Drivers were stranded well into the night with lingering storms while water receded very slowly. Homes, businesses and roads were flood damaged throughout Fairfax and surrounding counties.
Since we can’t fight the unknown but acknowledge that weather patterns have definitely changed, disasters caused by flooding will continue, and in all probability with ever increasing frequency.
To add Flood Insurance Coverage, contact your independent insurance agent or your insurance company who can write flood insurance directly with the National Flood Insurance Program. If you live outside a high risk flood area, your agent can advise if you qualify for a lower Preferred Risk Policy which provides the same coverage but at a lower rate.