Know Your Flood Risk

Home flooding: mitigation and insurance strategies

Floods have cost an estimated $17 billion in damages every year since 1990, and, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), even a single inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage to your home. That’s why it’s important to understand the flood risk in your area, so you can assess the danger to you, your family, and your property, and learn about your options for protection.

There are multiple resources dedicated to this purpose and it’s wise to bone up on your flood knowledge now — the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic flood event is the worst time to try to put together a flood mitigation plan.

Fortunately, FEMA and a number of partner organizations, including the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) and the ASFPM’s Flood Science Center, have collaborated to address this problem. They have created Reduce Flood Risk: A Library of Flood Mitigation Strategies and Resources, which gathers formerly scattered mitigation resources into a centralized, searchable information bank. Users can enter their information into a simple set of filters to zero in on flood mitigation tactics most appropriate to their situation.

Further reading

Those looking for a deeper dive into understanding the flood risk in their area can visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center. The FMSC is the official public source for flood hazard information, produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the program created by Congress to spread the risk of flood losses through government-mandated insurance products and reduce flood damage by restricting floodplain development.

FMSC users can enter their address, town, and even longitude/latitude coordinates into a simple search engine to see their official flood map, as well as to gain access to a range of other flood hazard products and tools that will help them gain a better understanding flood risk. Learning about your area’s risk level can help you make a smart decision about buying flood insurance.

Another useful resource is the Flood Mitigation Guide for Homeowners, compiled by ClimateCheck, a risk-modeling firm that specializes in issues related to climate change. ClimateCheck’s guide presents a menu of common-sense suggestions for homeowners looking to navigate the sometimes confusing landscape of flood mitigation strategies and products, with the goal of creating an action plan.

Getting coverage

Previously, only FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, NFIP Direct, sold flood insurance. Now the agency has partnered with private carriers to write NFIP Direct and offers a “find a flood insurance provider” feature to help those needing coverage. Private carriers, which underwrite their own flood business, have recently begun entering the market as well.

It’s important to do your homework so you know whether it’s smart to invest in flood insurance and if so, your best options for getting it. Keep in mind that if you have a home or business in a designated high-risk flood area, some private lenders may also require the coverage.

A good place to start your search for coverage is with Bankrate®, an independent comparison service, which has a comprehensive roundup of what flood insurance is and how it works, as well as tips on saving money. It’s a good idea to compare insurance rates between NFIP (the cost is the same no matter where you get it) and privately written coverage, to help you find the best flood insurance rate. If you go the private insurance route, you’ll also want to get quotes from different carriers to compare.

The information included here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions, or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice and should be confirmed with alternative sources.

Sources: LiveScience; Statista