BELLEVUE, TN. (WSMV) -- With the recent rain hitting the Nashville area, consumer experts want to remind residents that now is the time to make sure your house is covered by flood insurance.
BEFORE YOU BUY FLOOD INSURANCE
Before deciding on what type of coverage to buy, it’s important to know your risk. The FEMA Flood Map Service (https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search) allows consumers to determine your home’s flood risk. Risk levels are divided into three categories:
High-risk areas have at least a 1% chance of flooding each year. Homeowners in these areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to buy flood insurance.
Moderate- to low-risk areas have less than a 1% chance of flooding each year, but there is still a possibility the area could flood. Flood coverage isn't required in these areas, but it is recommended. Some mortgage lenders still require you to have flood insurance in moderate to low-risk areas.
Undetermined risk areas are areas where flood-hazard analysis has yet to be conducted, but risk still exists.
Bellevue resident Bill Arnold knows this firsthand.
“We live on the Harpeth river, right on the backside of us. It’s probably about 60 feet or so to the river and it rises and lowers pretty quickly,” Arnold said.
Arnold has lived at his home since the 1980’s. He remembers in the spring of 2010, the Harpeth rising the highest he’s ever seen.
“My wife and I were asleep in the bedroom and about 5:00 in the morning, some lady came banging on our door and said get out, your yard is flooding,” Arnold said.
Arnold and his wife immediately left. He says it flooded about 8 to 9 feet inside of his home.
“We had to gut the house out completely from the ceiling down,” Arnold said.
To make matters worse, Arnold says he didn’t have flood insurance at the time and cost him around $45,000.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance wants to remind homeowners about the importance of flood insurance. Spokesperson Kevin Walters told News 4 that just an inch of water in a home can cause about $25,000 in damages.
“Not having a flood insurance policy can mean a complete financial wipe out for some people,” Walters said.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is making a major effort to raise awareness about the importance of flood insurance.
“The rates of people in Tennessee who have flood insurance is unfortunately really low,” Walters said.
Walters also wants to dispel myths about flood insurance policies.
“People say that, well I rent my home I can’t get flood insurance. And that’s not true. If you are renting a home or renting an apartment, you can get flood insurance,” Walters said.
Walters says your homeowners policy typically will not cover the damages you incur when your home floods. Residents should also try and get a flood insurance policy as early as possible.
“People will think well, there’s been a flood and now I’m going to get flood insurance and it’s going to pay for what’s happened-- and that’s not the case. There’s typically a 30 day waiting period between when you actually ask for the policy and when the policy takes effect,” Walters said.
Arnold now has insurance and doesn’t take it for granted.
“It’s well worth it,” Arnold said.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has useful information about flood insurance. For more information, click here:
Walters also says that the National Flood Insurance program is the program you need to reach directly to learn more about flood insurance and to talk to someone about purchasing a policy. https://www.floodsmart.gov/
You can also call the The National Flood Insurance Program at 800-427-4661.
Walters says do not purchase flood insurance from someone who is not a licensed insurance agent and not a representative of an agency that is not licensed to sell flood insurance.
KNOW THE FACTS
MYTH: “Homeowners or renters insurance will cover my home and belongings if they are damaged by flood waters.”
FACT: Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover damages to a structure or contents in the event of a flood. Only a flood insurance policy will cover flood damage.
MYTH: “I don’t need flood insurance because FEMA assistance will cover my damages.”
FACT: Not everyone will qualify for FEMA assistance after a disaster. Even if a federal Disaster Declaration is made, post-disaster FEMA grants average less than $8,000. Remember: Just 1 inch of water in a home can cause $25,000 of damage.
MYTH: “I can’t buy flood insurance because my property flooded before.”
FACT: If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you are eligible to buy flood insurance, regardless of flood history. There are a few areas in Tennessee that do not participate in the NFIP. If your community does not participate, FEMA assistance is not available. If flood insurance through the NFIP is not available in your area, contact your licensed insurance agent to ask about private flood insurance. If you choose a private flood insurance policy, be sure to shop around to compare premiums and coverage.
MYTH: “I rent my home. Only homeowners can purchase flood insurance.”
FACT: Most homeowners, renters, and businesses in NFIP participating communities can purchase flood insurance. For a list of participating communities in Tennessee, visit https://www.fema.gov/cis/TN.pdf
MYTH: “I can wait and get flood insurance immediately before a storm and still be covered.”
FACT: While you can purchase flood insurance at any time, NFIP policies usually have a 30-day waiting period before the policy takes effect. If you purchase a private flood policy, be sure to ask about the waiting period.