Risk & Business Magazine Hardenbergh Magazine Fall 2019 - Page 15

FLOOD INSURANCE The Flood Of Confusion: MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT FLOOD INSURANCE BY: MARIE MANLEY W hen most people think about flood insurance, they might think about large rivers that crest and break their banks during storms, or beach towns that are inundated by extraordinary storm surge during news-making hurricanes. Floods are one of earth’s most common and destructive natural hazards, and they occur everywhere, not just near bodies of water you would expect to flood. In the United States, all 50 states have experienced flooding in the past decade. Flooding can occur over days or hours, or rapidly with very little warning. Take the example of a recent storm early this summer in South Jersey. During the storm, heavy rains over a short period inundated storm drains, flooding yards and streets with a deluge of rushing water. The flooding led to extensive flood damage, including a home in Haddonfield, New Jersey, that saw its foundation collapse. That homeowner, among others suffering damage from that storm, learned too late that homeowners insurance excludes floods. Most did not carry separate flood insurance and will be left to carry the burden of repairs and construction from their own pockets. If a pipe breaks under the sink and “floods” the kitchen, do you need flood insurance? What if the toilet overflows and “floods” the bathroom? Or the sump pump fails during a storm and water comes up and “floods” the basement, then do you need flood insurance? No—these are not examples of flooding, although you may argue that when cleaning it up! So, what exactly is a flood? According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the definition of a flood is generally as follows: a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder’s property) from overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or mudflow. So when do we need flood insurance? A neighbor’s aboveground pool collapses, pouring water into your basement windows—that is a flood. Heavy rains cause rising water to inundate your home at the surface level—that is a flood. A local stream overflows, entering your home— that is a flood. During that particular summer storm, a state of emergency was declared in Burlington County in multiple towns where flooding along the local rivers reached record-breaking levels, pouring into local homes, some of which had never seen flooding before. In Camden County, there were 70 emergency water rescues reported as people were caught unaware and unprepared in homes and cars in the flooded areas. With our changing climate and the increased strength of storms in recent years, it is clear that anyone could experience a devastating flood in an area that’s never flooded before. Floods are usually excluded on standard homeowners and renters policies, but anyone can purchase flood insurance, and there are more options than ever before. You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There are growing numbers of insurers writing flood insurance in the private markets with more coverage options. And a few companies are even adding it to their homeowners programs as an endorsement! With hurricane season quickly coming up, it pays to be sure you are properly protected against floods ahead of time. + Marie Manley works in the Personal Insurance Department as part of the Business Development Team. Her primary focus for more than 20 years is to offer consultation and advisory services to clients for their personal insurance. She helps them make educated choices with their insurance portfolio, which includes home, auto, collections, coastal property, and individual life and disability insurance. Marie is a member of the Voorhees Business Association, the Audubon- Haddon Township-Oaklyn Rotary, the Doctors Advisory Alliance Group, and BCSJ (Businesses Committed to South Jersey). She resides in South Jersey with her two children Natalie & Alex. 15