Flood insurance checkup

Hurricane Florence is not your average storm.  As it will undoubtedly devastate the area where it makes landfall, it will also wreak havoc along the east coast.  Some are already calling it a historic storm.  Flooding is expected not just along the coast, but also well into the mainland due to heavy rains.  Even my local county (Montgomery County) is bracing for persistent heavy rain even though we are in central MD. In its aftermath, hurricane Florence will be another reminder for Congress to act on a long-term reform of the National Flood Insurance Program.

The National Flood Insurance Program was created 1968 as a result of the aftermath of hurricane Betsy.    After the 1965 hurricane ravaged the gulf coast, Congress realized that flood insurance should be affordable and widely available to home owners, tenants, and businesses.  The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rains.  Like other Federal programs, Congress funds the program.  However, in recent years, Congress has appropriated short term extensions for the program.  The current extension provides funding through November.

National Association of Realtors President Elizabeth Mendenhall, issued a statement regarding the impending storm and a plea to Congress to act on reforming the National Flood Insurance Plan.  Mendenhall stated in the September 11th press release that there are an estimated 750,000 homes at risk from a coastal storm surge.  Furthermore, there is the potential of an estimated $170 billion of property damage just in the Carolinas and Virginia (nar.realtor).

Representing the National Association of Realtors, Mendenhall urges Congress to pass a long-term National Flood Insurance Plan by pointing out that “Flooding is the most common disaster in the United States, one that affects Americans in communities both coastal and inland every year.” She is correct to say, “In these times, we are reminded of the importance of peace of mind for property owners with access to quality and affordable flood insurance.

FEMA’s Flood Smart (floodsmart.gov) portal is where you can find more information about flood insurance and protecting your home before and after a flood.  Before a storm like Florence, you can reduce your risk by preparing.  FEMA offers suggestions for flood prepping, which includes (but not limited to): elevating critical utilities; ensuring your sump pump is working and has a battery back-up; install a water alarm in your basement; clear debris from gutters and down spouts; store irreplaceable documents (such as birth certificates, passports, etc.) in a safe, dry place; and of course, build an emergency supply kit that is ready to go when you are.  Your emergency kit should minimally include non-perishable food, bottled water, first aid, medicines and a battery-operated radio.  Ready.gov has checklists and additional preparedness information, including building your emergency supply kit.

It’s also recommended to make an inventory of your valuables so as to make filing insurance claims easier.  Additionally, know your flood risk level by checking FEMA’s interactive flood map (msc.fema.gov/portal/search).

FEMA warns home owners that regardless of your risk zone, flood insurance may be a necessary add-on to your homeowners’ insurance policy.  Even if you live in low or moderate flood risk area, you are five times more likely to experience a flood in your home than a fire.  Don’t assume your homeowners’ insurance policy covers flood damage.  Even if you have a flood rider, your coverage may be limited.  Review your policy with your insurance agent to determine if you have flood coverage as well as its limitations.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2018/09/12/flood-insurance-checkup/

By Dan Krell.          Copyright © 2018.

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Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism DetectorDisclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month
National Preparedness Month (from Ready.Gov)

September is National Preparedness Month!  Being prepared is not just having a “bugout” bag at the ready.  Preparedness is about taking stock to ensure safety for yourself and family in various conditions.  When you hear “preparedness,” you may automatically think of disaster or national emergency.  But it’s also about coping with various local emergencies including: weather, active shooter, hazardous materials, chemical, cybersecurity, and power outages.

FEMA encourages Americans to be prepared to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.  National Preparedness Month is FEMA’s focused outreach effort to educate and empower everyone through local and online events (https://www.ready.gov/september).  National Preparedness Month activities are occurring throughout the country.  In Montgomery County MD, local National Preparedness Month activities are coordinated through the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Preparedness in your home starts with maintenance.  Proper home maintenance can not only help mitigate a disaster, but also prevent one as well.  Regular maintenance of the home’s systems is obviously suggested.  However, there are specific emergency related recommendations to help you in your home, which include: testing smoke alarms monthly, replacing smoke alarms every ten years, and knowing how to shut off your home’s utilities.  Additionally, to prevent a chimney fire, you should have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified and reputable professional.

Information is key to getting through an emergency.  If you have a cell phone, you may receive “Wireless Emergency Alerts” through the Integrated Public Alert Warning System, which includes amber alerts, weather alerts, and notifications from the Emergency Alert System.  However, localities also have there own alert systems.  Here in Montgomery County MD, the Montgomery Alert system can inform you of local government and school information, weather alerts, as well as traffic and infrastructure issues (montgomerycountymd.gov/OEMHS/AlertMontgomery).

National Preparedness Month
FEMA Preparedness Checklist (from ready.gov)

Do you have an emergency plan?  You should have a plan in case an emergency occurs in and out of the home.  Take time to update your home fire evacuation plan, and practice it with a family fire drill.  Choose a family rendezvous point in case an emergency occurs during work/school hours and the home is inaccessible.  Because cell phones are not reliable during emergencies, alternate means of communication should be considered.  Create a family communication plan by including: family contact information, family physician, medical facility information, and an out-of-town point of contact.

Is your homeowner’s insurance adequate?  The aftermath of recent hurricanes and floods have demonstrated that home owners with proper insurance coverage recover from those disasters quicker.  Insurance and emergency experts recommend to regularly review your insurance policy with your agent to ensure that the replacement costs of your home and possessions are covered.  Coverage varies depending on the policy.  Experts recommended to discuss flood and disaster insurance with your insurance agent.

As for the “bugout” bag… It’s recommended that you have an emergency kit in the home and in your car.  A basic kit should be able to get you and your family through 72 hours of an emergency.  However, extreme emergencies have revealed that infrastructure can be disrupted for weeks.  Many experts encourage having an expanded home emergency kit to last at least two weeks in case of a prolonged lack of infrastructure.

Learn more about National Preparedness Month at FEMA’s Ready.gov (ready.gov/September).  Ready.gov provides detailed information about preparedness for yourself, your family and your home, including assembling an emergency kit.  Local preparedness information in Montgomery County MD can be obtained from Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (montgomerycountymd.gov/oemhs).

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2018/09/05/national-preparedness-month/

By Dan Krell.         Copyright © 2018.

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Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism DetectorDisclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

National Flood Insurance Program; extension and reform

by Dan Krell © 2010 Homeowners and flooding

On September 30th, the National Flood Insurance Program was extended for one year, as President Obama signed S.3814; the “National Flood Insurance Program Re-extension Act of 2010”. The one year extension is the longest over the last two years, when the program has been extended for multiple brief periods. Delays in program funding have mostly been due to debates over the program’s financial status

After hurricane Betsy ravaged the gulf coast in 1965, Congress realized that there was a need for affordable, widely available flood insurance. Since 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been offering insurance coverage for home owners, renters and businesses. The NFIP offers coverage for floods that are associated with hurricanes, tropical storms and heavy rains, which is often not included in a standard home owner’s insurance policy.

Although not every home owner chooses to purchase flood insurance, mortgage lenders will require home owners to be covered if their home is located in a flood plain. Insurance experts recommend all home owners to be prepared by assessing risk and consider purchasing flood insurance; affordable coverage can help reduce the heartache and financial loss in the event of a flood.

can floods affect homesUnfortunately, many area home owners wouldn’t think twice about flood insurance because flooding is not often seen as a threat. However, some home owners will often seek to purchase coverage when it is too late – when a weather emergency is imminent. For many Rockville residents, memories are still fresh of evacuations due the danger of Lake Needwood’s Dam breaking.

Without the NFIP, many home owners who live in flood plains would be exposed to additional risk while home purchases in those areas would be significantly curtailed. The debate over the beleaguered program’s financial viability is at the heart of the reform debate. The NFIP has been financially stressed since the hurricane season of 2005. The last reform of the NFIP was undertaken in 2006 at the heels of Hurricane Katrina and Rita’s devastation of the Gulf Coast, when NFIP combined claims from Katrina and Rita exceeded the total NFIP claims prior to those hurricanes.

Industry groups such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA) have been calling for reforms to the NFIP. While both the NAR and the PCIAA are calling for increased coverage (to increase home owner involvement and contribution to the program), the PCIAA is also calling for modern flood maps, subsidy phase outs, sensible rates, among other program modifications.

FEMA, the federal agency that administers the NFIP, has been undergoing a three phase plan to reform the program. To involve concerned groups such as NAR and PCIAA, FEMA announced public meetings to be held on December 2nd in Washington, DC and December 9th in Denver, CO. The meetings will provide an opportunity for interested parties to hear reform policy and updates, as well as ask questions and offer feedback.

Since its inception, the NFIP has not only provided home owners and businesses with an alternative to disaster relief; it has also engaged communities across the country (including many local communities, towns, and cities) in flood plain management and flood awareness and preparation. You can visit smartflood.gov for more information about your flood risk and preparation recommendations.

Comments are welcome. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of November 15, 2010. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2010 Dan Krell.