An Inch of Floodwater Means $25k in Damage:
Here’s How to Keep Your Property Dry
If you think that hurricanes and flash floods are the only causes of flood risk, think again.
According to FEMA, just one inch of flood water could cost you as much as $25 thousand in repairs. That single inch of floodwater could come from any number of smaller events, like a sudden snowmelt or a heavy rain – and it can wreak havoc on both your wallet and your basement if you don’t have the right safeguards in place beforehand.
You can steer clear of serious losses from all types of flood damage by protecting your property financially and structurally now. Here’s how.
Step 1: Get Familiar with Your Flood Risk – It Might Have Changed
Your flood risk determines the financial and structural protection you’ll need for your property. But flood risk is complicated: it’s changing for every address in the country.
On a global level, climate change is increasing the intensity of storms, the frequency of rainfall, and sea levels – which has resulted in millions more Americans facing the effects of flooding every year.
Researchers have identified that dramatic rise in America’s flood risk: data from First Street Foundation reveals that as many as 70 percent of American homeowners have a flood risk not represented in FEMA’s flood maps. That risk will keep growing as climate change worsens.
FEMA continually updates its maps to reflect accurate risk models and the impacts of climate change. If you haven’t checked in a while (or ever), check out your current flood risk.
Step 2: Get Flood Insurance (Even if You Live in a Low-Risk FEMA Flood Zone)
Having flood insurance is the most effective way to avoid financial damage from flooding, and getting reimbursed for a claim is quick and easy if you’re already a policyholder when the water comes.
But how much you pay will depend on a few factors.
A large component of your flood insurance premium is the FEMA flood zone you live in, which can be high-risk, low-risk, or moderate-risk. While properties in high-risk flood zones are required to purchase flood insurance along with a federally backed mortgage, one in three insurance claims comes from low- or moderate-risk flood zones.
Still, flood insurance rates can vary widely between your house and your neighbor’s down the street. That’s because there are a number of property-specific factors in addition to your flood zone that determine your annual flood insurance premium:
- The type of coverage being purchased (such as building and contents coverage)
- The deductible and amount of building and contents coverage
- The location of your structure
- The design and age of your structure
- The location of your structure’s contents
Even if you live in a low-risk flood zone, your property might have qualities that make it more vulnerable to localized flooding, like if it has an older foundation or is located at the bottom of a hill.
Ready to start your flood insurance application? Get a premium estimate in seconds.
Step 3: Strengthen Your Property’s Flood Protection Measures
Once you’ve got flood insurance in place, you can take a number of precautions to protect your belongings and prevent water from entering in the first place – or make it easier to drain if it does.
But before you do any renovation or installations, you can ensure your flood insurance claims process is as smooth as possible by doing the following:
- Take inventory of your belongings. Take photos and videos of all of your valuable items, which you’ll need when you’re filing your flood insurance claim.
- Keep important documents safe and dry. Store documents like passports and insurance records in a watertight safe.
When it comes to property-level flood protection, every structure is different. While you may benefit from consulting a flood protection expert, here are several best practices all property owners can heed:
- Elevate and anchor your utilities. Make sure your electrical panels, propane tanks, sockets, wiring, appliances, and heating systems are raised and secured.
- Waterproof your basement with a sump pump. Install and maintain a sump pump and water alarm, and consider a battery-operated backup pump in case the power fails.
- Empty out your gutters. Clear debris from gutters and downspouts so there’s no backup.
If you know a flood is coming, move your furniture and valuables. If you have advance warning, move your items to the highest floor in your building.
Don’t Learn the Hard Way: Keep Your Property Safe from Future Floods
Just because your property has never flooded before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Serious flood damage could occur from something as innocuous as a leaf-clogged gutter on a night of heavy rain. Don’t wait until the damage is done to realize you need protection.
Have questions about where to start with flood insurance and flood prevention? We’re here to help – head to our FAQ page to learn more.