Flood zone changes in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are affecting some Massachusetts homeowners and their insurance. Some homes which were never before considered in the flood path, now are. This means that those homeowners will now have to buy flood insurance while others will have to pay more for their current flood insurance coverage.
Another thing for homeowners to keep in mind is that flood insurance does not automatically cover personal belongings. While most flood insurance policies cover structural damage and clean up, be sure to also discuss with your insurance agent content or personal property coverage.
Content items that could also be damaged in a flood include:
- Personal items like a TV, DVD, computer, clothing, toys
- Furnishings, for example, sofa, dining set, entertainment center
- Portable and window air conditioners, dehumidifier
- Washer and dryer
- Refrigerator, freezer and the food in them
It is always a good idea to document a thorough home inventory of your belongings to help if ever you need to file an insurance claim.
The new FEMA flood mapping and the changes enacted by congress affect all coastal communities. The maps are said to be more accurate because they are measured to a 2 foot level, which was previously 10 feet, by using LiDAR in support of floodplain mapping. LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light.
Base flood elevation is the level at which FEMA considers the annual chance of flooding to be 1 percent or higher, calling that area the Special Flood Hazard Area, or high-risk zone. Insurance premiums take into account the elevation of the home in relation to the base flood elevation, so each case is different. As a result of the new mapping, many additional properties have been placed in the high-risk flood zone for the first time, and if the owners have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender, they will be required to purchase or adjust flood insurance coverage.
For information on how to find your flood map visit: https://msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/infostoreId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId-1&userType=G&content=firmHelp_1&title=How to Find a Flood Map
For the flood map update schedule visit: http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/map_update_schedule.jsp
Local towns in our area also post flood insurance information. For example, Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Cambridge and Newton, to name a few, all provide information on their town website regarding flood zones and flood insurance.
And remember, everyone is at risk for flooding, even when not in a flood zone. Floods can happen anywhere, at any time. Approximately 20-25 percent of all flood claims occur outside of high-risk areas. Residents who live in and outside of a high-risk area should know their risk and consider protection.