Sonya Dickinson | (540) 353-0123

Unfortunately, it’s a reality of modern life in Roanoke and elsewhere. Certain areas have repeated problems with flooding. As we saw last year when our neighbors in West Virginia were hit with horrific flooding, the effects can be devastating.

The Roanoke region has done a lot of work to prepare for flooding and protect residents and their property. However, the rain we’ve had for the past several days got me thinking about flooding and flood insurance, which prompted me to share this information about the National Flood Insurance Program. As with any insurance policy, you’ll want to consult your insurance professional before making any decisions.

The most important thing to know? “Only flood insurance covers flood damage,” according FEMA’s flood insurance information pages. You might find an insurer here or there who has a high-end homeowners policy that offers some flood coverage, but by and large, you’re dependent on the NFIP. In fact, most homeowners or renters policies specifically exclude flood damage under most circumstances.

Do I need flood insurance?

Good question, and it’s something you need to find out right away when you’re considering a property. Flood insurance is fairly expensive and needs to be considered as part of your overall expenses when budgeting for your new home.

If you suspect a home could be in a flood zone, start with your agent then the seller’s agent to get confirmation. The information may also be shown in your community’s Geographic Information System, where real estate is indexed. In addition, your locality will be able to help you determine the property’s flood risk.

If you’re willing to give out your email address, freeflood.net has an easy-to-use tool that lets you input an address and shows you where your property appears on flood maps. You can also check flood maps at fema.gov, but using the maps isn’t as intuitive on that site.

If you’re in a high-risk flood area and have a mortgage, federal guidelines will likely require you to hold flood insurance. In lower-to-moderate risk areas, lenders may still require flood insurance even though it’s not federally required.

How do I buy flood insurance?

While FEMA is the underwriter for flood insurance, you’ll actually buy from an agent or company. Your current insurer is a good place to start. Shopping around isn’t necessary, because you’re getting the same policy and same rates for your flood risk no matter which company you choose.

Once you choose an insurer, you’ll need to talk about deductibles. You’ll typically choose a deductible for the building and a separate amount for its contents. The higher your deductibles are, the lower your premiums will be. Remember: The deductible is the amount you’ll be responsible for if you have to make a claim. So while you’ll save on your premium with a higher deductible, only take the higher deductible if you expect to have that cash available if disaster strikes.

Typically, your annual premium must be paid in full to your insurer, and you will be subject to a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before the policy goes into effect. So don’t wait until the storm is on its way to contact your insurance agent.

I don’t much like to think about things like flooding and fire, but your home is potentially your largest investment in your lifetime. Better to have the information you need to take action to protect your investment and your family.

If you have other questions about flood insurance or the things you need to do to protect your home, please contact me, and I can put you in touch with an insurance professional as we begin looking at homes. Call me at (540) 353-0123 or email me at sonya@sonyadickinson.com. Browse my listings here and be sure to like my Facebook page.