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Don’t Get ‘Swept Away’


With a strong El Niño pattern in place, this winter is likely to bring wet weather to California that could cause serious flooding, even in low-risk areas. That means it’s time to prepare and buy flood insurance.

 

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) strongly urges Californians to consider Flood Insurance, we should probably listen.  “If there was ever a time to buy flood insurance, this is the time,” Roy Wright, FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation, recently told the L.A. Times.

AOL.com reported 50 to 70 percent of residents who live in high-risk areas currently don’t have flood insurance, and it might be difficult to convince people that they should buy this during a historic drought. More than 97 percent of California is currently in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

It’s the drought that’s causes some of the worries, as the parched ground can act like asphalt when heavy rain falls.

If there is little moisture in the soil, it can harden and won’t be as capable of absorbing the rainfall, and this is what leads to mudslide issues that are prevalent in heavy rainstorms.

Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. However, flood coverage is available in the form of a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers.

Congress created the NFIP in 1968 in response to the rising cost of taxpayer-funded disaster relief for flood victims and the increasing amount of damage caused by floods. The NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. The NFIP is self-supporting for the average historical loss year. This means that unless there is a widespread disaster, operating expenses and flood insurance claims are financed through premiums collected.

The NFIP provides coverage for up to $250,000 for the structure of the home and up to $100,000 for personal possessions. Private flood insurance is available for those who need additional insurance protection, known as excess coverage, over and above the basic policy or for people whose communities do not participate in the NFIP. Some insurers have introduced special policies for high-value properties.

It’s an impossible task to pinpoint exactly which areas will see dangerous flooding this winter, which is why FEMA has urged all Californians to buy insurance. FloodSmart.gov has additional guidance for residents who want to buy insurance or learn more about areas most prone to flooding.

On a personal note, I have lived in the same home the past 19 years on the south end of Temecula, which is considered a low flood risk zone.  I’ve never personally carried Flood Insurance and in the 25 years that I’ve had my Farmers agency, I have rarely pushed the coverage to customers in low risk areas.

With that said, I did write a flood policy on my home, and I’m currently in the 30 day waiting period.

Yes, if you’re considering Flood Insurance, it’s recommended that you contact an insurance professional sooner, rather than later, as a 30 Day Waiting Period is standard for Flood Insurance.

I’m not taking a chance this winter with El Nino, and it’s advised that you don’t either.

Written by Craig Davis

Craig Davis is an agent for Farmers Insurance and the owner of Craig Davis Family Insurance located at 27645 Jefferson, Suite 113, in Temecula. He may be reached at (951) 699-1776. cdavis@farmersagent.com

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