Hurricane Ian

A North Port, FL family was hunkering down during Hurricane Ian when water began coming up from the shower drain. Then it started coming in from outside the house. Eventually the family was forced to climb on top of their kitchen cabinets and were rescued the next day by boat. After floodwaters receded, residents throughout the neighborhood cleaned out their damp and muddy homes, piling wet furniture, flooring, and drywall on their lawns.

North Port is about 5 miles inland and is an area where flood insurance isn’t required. Consequently, many homeowners don’t have it. Since flooding is not covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy, people are questioning how they’ll afford home repairs.

Flood insurance is an option for most people and must be purchased separately — usually from the federal government. Only on government-backed mortgages that sit in areas that the Federal Emergency Management Agency deems highest risk is flood insurance a requirement. Many banks require it in high-risk zones, too. But some homeowners who pay off their mortgage drop their flood insurance once it’s not required to save money. Or if they purchase a house or mobile home with cash, they may not opt for it at all. And as we’ve recently seen, flooding can and does happen outside those high-risk areas.

  • According to the Insurance Information Institute, only about 4% of homeowners nationwide have flood insurance even though 90% of catastrophes in the U.S. involve flooding.
  • According to the consulting firm Milliman, roughly 18.5% of homes had federally issued flood insurance. In areas that were outside of high-risk zones, 9.4% of homes had a policy.

In 2021, FEMA updated its pricing system for flood insurance to more accurately reflect risk called Risk Rating 2.0. While the old system considered a home’s elevation and whether it was in a high-risk flood zone, Risk Rating 2.0 looks at the risk that an individual property will flood, considering factors like its distance to water. The new pricing system raises rates for about three-quarters of policyholders and offers price decreases for the first time.

After a federally declared disaster, homeowners with flood insurance are likely to receive more money, more quickly, to recover and rebuild than the uninsured. Congress may provide additional aid after major disasters, but that can take months to years to arrive. Rob Moore at the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “Unless you have flood insurance, the federal government is not going to give you enough assistance to rebuild your home.”

One resident who was cleaning up from Ian, wasn’t sure whether he would get flood insurance going forward because of the cost. “I don’t think we could live here if we had to buy flood insurance,” he said. But down the street, his neighbor was planning to get it. “Get flood insurance even if it’s not required,” she advised. “Because we definitely will now.”

Regardless of where you live in the U.S., flood insurance can the lifesaver you need during severe weather. Have your Account Manager at The Starr Group review your policy and provide you with options for flood insurance: 414-421-3800.

Associated Press