by Kelly Holck
on Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 at 1:12pm.
When the rain started, I was heading from one job to the next. The rain was coming down, but I remained ignorant in thinking it was just another storm. I arrived at World of Beer and all of the satellites for our TVs were down. All at once, every single cell phone went off in the restaurant that was previously only filled with the voices of Monday night restaurant goers. The alert on our cell phones was a flood warning, which means that flooding had already begun to occur. If you’re like me, when you get a notification like this, you kind of just brush it off. Thunderstorm warnings, flash flood watches: these types of things are pretty normal in the Midwest and the warning/watch will usually go away within a few hours, with not much to show for it. However, just a short while later, one of my coworkers forced me to the back door just to find that Greenway Boulevard (right behind the restaurant) had several inches of water built up on it, with a sheet of rain still blanketing the sky.
Video slideshow courtesy of Cities of the World YouTube channel
This was only the beginning...
of the record-breaking rainfall which occurred on August 20th and 21st, 2018 that resulted in massive flooding and the declaration of a state of emergency for Dane County, Wisconsin. I’m not sure that anyone expected the calamity that transpired; if we had, I know we all would have liked to be much more prepared. Many of the people and families effected, assumed their homeowners/renters insurance would cover the damage that took place. Unfortunately, most of these policies don’t cover flood damage; flood insurance is more of an add-on to your existing insurance. There are a couple forms of assistance that you can request if you don’t have some sort of flood plan/policy:
A loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration. This is to be paid back with interest and therefore is only a temporary bandage on the damage.
A disaster grant through FEMA which averages at $5,000 per household. However, even an inch of water can cost more than $25,000 in damage.
Yes, these forms of financial aid are a great resource to have. However, whether or not you qualify for a loan or grant, without flood insurance, you're almost guaranteed to have some pretty hefty expenses when a flood hits. Even if you don't expect to be in the middle of a natural disaster that would cause flooding, it's important to stay educated. Therefore, I'd like to go over a few common myths that are out there regarding flood insurance:
I have homeowners insurance which means I have flood insurance.
• Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage to your home. Contact your insurance agent to find out what your homeowners insurance covers and what additional options are available to you.
I can only apply for a flood policy if I live in a flood plain.
• Not true. Yes, you will most likely be required to purchase flood insurance if you do live in a flood plain. However, flood insurance is available to "almost anybody" according to Chris Hackett, the director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Don Griffin, who is the vice president for the same company, states that 25% of flood claims are actually for homes not in flood zones.
No matter which flood insurance plan I get, everything will be covered.
• This is also not true. Make sure to study all available plans with your insurance agent.
When I purchased my home, I wasn't in a flood zone. Therefore, I'm not currently in a flood zone.
• Flood plains are constantly changing. FEMA offers an interactive flood map that allows you to type in your home address and find out if you're in a flood plain. You can also talk to your insurance agent to find out what the flood risk is in your area.
I can only purchase flood insurance if I own a home.
• Whether you own your home or rent it, flood insurance is most likely available to you.
Most people see natural disasters on the news and think, "Oh that's so terrible. Thank God I live in (insert city) because I don't have to worry about that." However, as us Dane County residents realized a few short weeks ago, disasters can happen at any time to anyone. Current damage estimates for the flooding in Dane County are at $154 million, with $78.2 million in residential; these numbers are expected to increase as more damage is evaluated. Unfortunately, only about 2% of residents with flood damage here reported having flood insurance. Seeing as the average cost of flood insurance is $700 per year, the potential damage to your home will likely cost a lot more than an insurance policy will. Keep in mind that insurance coverage generally kicks in about 30-days after you purchase it, so be aware and be prepared.
Please, feel free to reach out if you have any questions about flood insurance; we can get you in touch with the right people.