It took less than a month for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season to become among the worst in recorded history.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas on August 25th as a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph. The storm surge increased water and tides more than 12 feet above ground level in some areas. Harvey shattered rainfall records as it meandered for days, with some areas receiving more than 40 inches of rain in less than two days.
According to investigators, Irma is among the most powerful storms to roam the Atlantic Basin in more than a decade. Irma had sustained winds of 185 mph for 37 hours, which is the longest any cyclone anywhere in the world has maintained that level of intensity.
The entire island suffered catastrophic damage. In some places the damage was complete.
As an independent insurance broker residing and working in South Florida for over 30 years, preparing for and recovering after storms is nothing new. But, this year was different. As Hurricane Irma was making its way toward the southeastern coast of america, we received an unprecedented number of calls about flood insurance. Why?
Everyone saw the catastrophic flooding in Texas due to Hurricane Harvey only a couple weeks earlier. The damage was catastrophic. So was the news that almost 80 percent of homeowners in the counties most directly affected by flood didn’t have flood insurance.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), floods are the most common and costliest natural disaster. FEMA’s flood hazard mapping program is used to identify flood hazards, assess flood risks and determine flood insurance requirements.
Regrettably, too many homeowners and businesses refuse to carry flood insurance simply because they are not located in a high-risk flooding zone. Hurricane Harvey taught us that when it comes to flooding, mother nature does not listen to FEMA’s flood zone maps.
Flood zones are constantly being re-mapped, but it’s a lengthy process that can take years. Upgraded maps quickly become out-of-date. Additionally, the process of identifying property that is susceptible to flooding is not a perfect science.
Localized drainage issues;
topographic variances on individual properties; or
the failure of flood control systems.
This is the reason why everyone needs to seriously consider flood insurance, regardless of whether they can be found in a high-risk flood zone. Premiums are relatively affordable, particularly when you consider the risks assumed by a flood insurance policy, like the:
overflow of inland or tidal waters;
collapse of property along a body of water from waves or currents; and
rapid accumulation of surface waters from any source, such as blocked storm drains and broken water pipes under the surface of the earth.
Uninsured flood damage can devastate any residence or business. Over the course of just a few weeks, we have seen the landfall of not one, not two, but three hurricanes that rank among the strongest storms in recorded history. This is why those relying on flood zone maps to justify their decision to not buy flood insurance should seriously reconsider.