Along with the rest of greater Houston, the upcoming first anniversary of Hurricane Harvey has us reminiscing. How are our friends recovering? What have we learned? What changes are underway to our region’s infrastructure?
One lesson that stands out is the importance of flood insurance. Thousands of Houstonians who had never flooded before 2017 thought they did not need it. But we are here to tell you that everyone who lives at ground level in our part of Texas should have flood insurance, and as real estate agents we will practically twist your arm to make sure you buy it.
We recently heard a talk at our weekly office meeting by Vickie McClain with McClain Insurance. She discussed several myths about flood insurance, and we wanted to pass some of her discussion along to you.
Myth #1 Your regular homeowner’s insurance includes coverage for flooding.
No. As many learned, flood damage is not covered by homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance. You must buy a separate policy. You can buy it from the U.S. government through your regular insurance agent, and the cost starts at about $450; it will cost more if you are in a flood plain. (Which begs the question: Who knows where the flood plains are these days? They all seemed to change last year.)
Myth #2 “I can only get $250,000 of coverage on the dwelling and $100,000 on the contents.”
If your home’s replacement value is more than $250,000, you can also buy excess flood insurance for the dwelling and personal property for an additional cost. Also, renters do not need to buy the dwelling portion of the policy – that would be the landlord’s responsibility. But renters should buy coverage for their home’s contents, such as furniture and appliances.
Myth #3 Flood insurance covers everything.
While flood insurance covers quite a lot, there are some things it does not cover, including loss of use and replacement cost on personal property: Your home’s contents are valued at actual cash value, which is a depreciated value. Always read your policy.
Myth #4 “My house didn’t flood in Harvey, so I don’t need flood insurance.”
A prior flooding event is not always a predictor of future flooding events. (Certainly, you know that by now.)
Myth #5 You aren’t eligible to buy flood insurance if the property has been flooded before.
Yes, you are. If your house has flooded before, the owner or future owner needs to get an elevation certificate (available from a surveyor) and must tell the insurance agent that they have had a prior flood.
Remember that flood insurance will cover you in the case of flash floods, heavy rains, tropical storms and hurricanes. To learn more about what flood coverage will and will not cover, click here. Most important, educate yourself and talk to your insurance agent.