According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster. More than 20% of flood claims come from properties outside the high risk flood zone. FEMA maintains risks assessments in cooperation with local communities and publishes Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) are defined using Base Elevations that reflect a 1% chance of being met or exceeded in any given year (Base Flood). Zones (such as X, AE, A1A30 and V) classify and specify risks, including flood or velocity wave action risks. The details are too complex for a short report but can be found at FEMA’s website.
In order for Greenwich to remain eligible to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) it adopted compliant building codes. NFIP uses Base Flood Elevation as a regulatory requirement for flood proofing. Be sure to consult an expert and review town regulations before making repairs, alterations or improvements, especially if any part of your home is in a risk area or below a Base Elevation. In some cases a Base Elevation Certificate and cumulative†value added must be obtained and demonstrated.
Typical homeowner and renter insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Check your policy exclusions for definitions. FEMA offers natural disaster grants, but individual distributions are often much less than what is needed to recover fully. FEMA reports the Small Business Administration (SBA) provides most of the federal assistance through loans that need to be paid back. NFIP flood insurance, which is available to homeowners and renters in participating communities, can be obtained through an insurance agency only. Coverage is subject to a deductible and other terms and conditions and is limited to $250,000 per residence (property) and $100,000 for personal property (contents). In some cases private market flood insurance may be available. In any event, there is often a minimal wait period of 30 days or more. In each instance assessing flood risk and obtaining minimal or adequate insurance requires research.
All insurance questions should be directed to your insurance provider for professional advice.
Feature Photo by Giovanni Arechavaleta