Tag Archives: flood insurance

Private Insurance vs. FEMA

JULY 2014:  Flood insurance is a hot topic at the moment, the product is in flux. When the  Biggert-Waters Act was signed into law  in 2012, it was met with criticism and concern. This law set to remedy the long standing subsidized flood insurance rates that had subsequently bankrupted FEMA to the tune of 20 BILLION dollars.

PRIVATE INSURANCE VS. FEMA:  Home owners cried foul and pleaded for mercy as their rates were about to spiral out of control. Stepping in to combat the rate hikes was the introduction of private insurance, first in Florida and then spanning out across the country to include 15 states (as of this time).

Private insurance is written by Lloyd’s of London. Although they offer an alternative, with very competitive rates, my concern would be what happens if a catastrophic storm hits, àla Super Storm Sandy? If a private insurance company goes bankrupt – you could be out of luck in terms of receiving reimbursements. If FEMA backed insurance accumulates too many losses, they dig into the money bags of the USA government. Whose likely to run out of money first?

The entire goal of flood insurance, any insurance, is to make it self-sustaining. For that to happen, the rates must reflect the true risk involved.

PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS INTO LAW A FLOOD INSURANCE RELEIF ACT: In March of 2014, after much outcry from the constituents of flood weary states, the government backed down from it’s initial aggressive stance on curbing subsidized flood insurance rates. Essentially this law caps flood insurance premium rate hikes and passes on subsided rates to people buying homes in flood zones.

Flood insurance rates still need to be adjusted to better reflect the true risk of the home in a flood zone. Without it, people will continue to build, buy and live in a flood risk area, exposing the taxpayer to a significant burden. With the ever increasing rise in ocean levels, this is a real concern – for everybody. 

BEST SOLUTION  that I’m a big fan of: house elevation for flood mitigation. Your house is protected, your insurance rates drop dramatically, and you move from being a part of the problem to a part of the solution. Without a doubt, that is much easier said then done. Researchers, economists and lawmakers alike all favor this idea. The problem is implementing this expensive notion on a grand scale.

Just starting to rain ...

Just starting to rain …

A few hours later ... House across the street is deluged with flood water.

A few hours later …
House across the street is deluged with flood water.

If the above house were elevated, the only thing the home owner would need to do is move their car.

 

 

 

Insurance Costs Remain High post House Elevation

OUR HOUSE IS “SPECIAL”: We live in a flood zone that has been deemed “special” by FEMA, and not in a good way. It’s rated in the highest category of flood insurance, beat out only by those who have ocean front views. The guilty party in our instance is not the Atlantic Ocean, but a gentle brook whose size is disarmingly small. Yet, it provides, under the right circumstances, significant flooding around the entire perimeter of our house. For all kinds of obvious reasons, we no longer wanted to have the brook entering our house like an uninvited guest who crashes the party and trashes your house.

RAISE THE ROOF: or the whole house, as we did. That’s right. Ripped it from its foundation, jacked it up about 5 feet, built some new access stairs and endured a few months of costly construction. All in the name of decreasing our flood risk and ever-climbing flood insurance rates.

Our updated information was sent to FEMA complete with our required new flood elevation certificate. We weren’t looking for a gold star for our foreheads, just a decrease in our flood insurance rates.

FEMA’S RESPONSE: No rate change – same as  BEFORE the lift. Why? Two words – Flood Vents.

Flood Savvy.com

Interior view of flood vent

WHAT IS A FLOOD VENT? Simply put, a flood vent allows for a free flow of flood water in and out of a home’s foundation walls. They serve to equalize the pressure on both sides of the foundation walls, decreasing the chance of significant damage. (see earlier post on flood vents)

FloodSavvy.com

FEMA accepted flood vents

Not only do you need to have them, you need to have the right number of them based on the square footage of your house. The correct number of vents were on our plans, but our builder missed two of them. FEMA is a stickler that all criteria be met. Our house is out of harm’s way, but because we have seven instead of the required nine flood vents, they offered no reduction. A true all or none philosophy.  They have no competition, you can only get flood insurance through FEMA so they get to make all the rules. Once installed, we’ll resubmit our data to FEMA and hope for a better outcome.

FloodSavvy.com

Flood vents cut into the foundation near the ground

 

18 Inches of Rain Brings Pain to Boulder, Colorado

At long last the rain has let up and the storm has passed, yet many will feel the ramifications of the recent flooding in Boulder, Colorado for months to come. Numerous homes endured total destruction while others suffered comparatively minor damage with flooding restricted to their basement. Unfortunately for those without flood insurance, they will have to rebuild on their own. Flooding is about as appealing as a kick to the head.

Should those who were impacted by this freak of nature storm run out to purchase flood insurance? No. It takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to take effect. But what about moving forward, should those homes impacted by floodwater purchase flood insurance? YES. Depending on the flood risk for your home, the rates can be very inexpensive.

FLOOD INSURANCE: THE LEAST YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. It takes 30 days to take effect

2. Building Coverage (house and mechanicals) and Content Coverage (your stuff) MUST be purchased separately

3. Flood Insurance offers limited coverage for basements

1500 HOMES DESTROYED IN BOULDER FLOOD: “Some 1,500 homes have been destroyed and about 17,500 have been damaged, according to an initial estimate released by the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.” HUGE numbers of homes have been impacted.

120,000 HOMES DAMAGED: “According to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, 4,550 Boulder County homeowners are covered by flood insurance. That figure is well above the national per-capita average, but U.S. Census data suggests it still leaves many of the roughly 120,000 county households soaked and damaged, with dim prospects for total financial recovery.” www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder-flood/ci_24083820/flood-damage-leaves-boulder-area-residents-scrambling

Flood-Insurance

Hang in there, Boulder!

Sophisticated flood maps difficult to decipher (Houston Chronicle)

NEW PRICING: This article demonstrates the untold confusion many homeowners are facing regarding the new FEMA flood maps and their ramifications. We are painfully aware of the new consequences. The options available are limited: lift your house above the base flood elevation level OR prepare to face expensive flood insurance premiums. As we have personally experienced flooding in recent years, it was already on our radar. Many others, whose homes have not flooded in years and have sort of forgot about flood insurance for the most part, are waking up to a brand new expensive day.

HARtbeat

By: Kiah Collier, Houston Chronicle

Earlier this summer, before Jack Boze lost a buyer for his Kemah home to a surprisingly high flood insurance quote, he got online to see whether the odds that his waterfront property would flood had increased.

Click here to continue reading this story.

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House Elevations and FEMA Maps

Along with the east coast states of New Jersey and New York, Connecticut communities are actively elevating their flood prone homes. Many of the properties procuring this flood prevention tactic sit right on the coast line of the Long Island Sound. Beautiful front row views of the water, right up until the weather goes haywire and the Sound ends up sloshing around in their living room. Yesterday, Bloomberg published an article articulating the need for home elevations in this area, along with the impact of the new FEMA maps

As stated in some of my earlier posts, FEMA has begun to aggressively remap floodplains in those areas that have been hit the hardest in recent years: homes impacted by Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy. FEMA has set it’s sights next on California, the Great Lakes and Florida. In a nutshell –  more and more homes will have to two difficult and expensive options to choose from: elevate their homes or face sky-high flood insurance premiums.

See the article below for more information as well as some interesting photos:

www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-19/greenwich-stilt-houses-foreshadow-impact-of-new-fema-maps.html