Flooding in Florida
Flooding is a problem in Florida, and in recent years, it’s becoming more common. The Enhanced State Hazard Mitigation Plan is clear on the issue:
“The entire state of Florida is particularly susceptible to flooding due to the large amounts of coastline, significant drainage systems, and the relatively low elevations.”
Tidal flooding, also known as “sunny day flooding,” has become a major issue for Miami, Key Largo, Fort Lauderdale, and other coastal communities. A University of Florida study found that flooding along the US’s southeast shoreline increased at 0.75 an inch per year from 2011-2015, as compared to the global rate of 0.1 inch per year. Shifting atmospheric conditions, rising sea levels, and coastal erosion all contribute to this issue.
Florida’s Official Rainy Season
Florida also has a significant rainy season, running from May 15 to October 15. During these six months, we get about 70 percent of our annual rainfall. Last year, record amounts of rain fell as late as December, disrupting holiday travel.
Expert Flooding Projections
The real estate company, Zillow, and the environmental nonprofit, Climate Center, conducted a 2019 study that indicates that over the next three decades, thousands of Florida homes—or about $3.38 billion worth of residential real estate—are at risk for serious flooding.
Flooding is Not Just a Coastal Problem
Forty-nine of Florida’s 67 counties are at high-risk for flooding. That number includes 11 inland counties. Rivers, streams, lakes, and canals have all flooded during hurricanes or big rain events. In recent years, inland flooding has caused more hurricane-related deaths in Florida than storm surge.
Florida averages 45 flood events a year, with annual property loss of $86 million, according to the Division of Emergency Management.
Does Home Insurance Cover Flooding?
Home and renters insurance cover water damage caused by non-flood events, such as a burst pipe. They do not cover flood damage.
Your bank may require you to purchase flood insurance prior to giving you a mortgage. Depending on where you live, your bank may be able to legally purchase flood insurance for your property and send you a bill.
Who Needs Flood Insurance?
Floridians living in flood zones need flood insurance. However, 20 percent of flood claims come from residents located outside of designated flood zones. An uncommon flood event, such as the rain that followed Hurricane Irma, may devastate homeowners living in “low-risk” areas.
Both renters and homeowners should purchase flood insurance. Roy Wright, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program, recommends that all Floridians purchase flood insurance. The Insurance Information Institute warns that Florida has “no flood-free zone.”
Twenty-percent of flood claims come from residents located outside of designated flood zones.
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
The NFIP defines flooding as an overflow of inland or tidal waters, rapid accumulation of surface waters from rainfall, and liquid mudflow. The flood event must affect at least two acres or two adjoining properties. Flood insurance also covers the collapse or destabilization of a shoreline, resulting from erosion or a storm surge.
Wind Event vs. Flood
The accumulation of rain in a home, due to roof or other structural damage, is considered a wind event rather than a flood event and is not covered by flood insurance. If there is a watermark, damage is generally considered flood damage.
An NFIP policy covers up to $250,000 in structural damage for residential properties and up to $500,000 for commercial properties. The policy payout considers the amount it would take to replace your home or building, rather than the actual value of the structure with depreciation.
Contents of Your Home or Business
An NFIP policy covers the contents of your home for up to $100,000 and of your business for up to $500,000. Content payout is based on actual cash value, which means the payout would reflect the depreciation of your belongings. Basement contents are not covered, although basement clean-up and total-building appliances located in the basement are covered.
Outdoor property, such as patio furniture and swimming pools, are not covered by an NFIP policy. Damage to vehicles and temporary housing expenses are also excluded. (Comprehensive auto insurance will cover your car in the event of a flood.)
Get Flood Insurance from Farm Bureau Insurance
Flood insurance is federally regulated through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You can purchase flood insurance through licensed property and casualty agents, such as your local Farm Bureau agent. These policies are standardized, meaning you will pay the same rate no matter which insurance company handles your policy. You can also purchase flood insurance for commercial or rental property.
We are now entering Florida’s rainy season, and we are not that far from hurricane season, which begins June 1. If you want your property to be covered when the risk is highest, don’t procrastinate.