June 1 marked the start of hurricane season, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Atlantic hurricane season will be a busy one. NOAA predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. Since June 1, there have already been five named storms in the Atlantic; Cristobal was the earliest “C” storm on record and its remnants tracked to Wisconsin.
Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. The combined cost of the Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi river flooding ($20 billion) alone was almost half of the total cost ($45 billion) of weather and climate disaster events in the United States in 2019. But hurricanes and other severe weather events are not the only sources of flooding. On May 20, 2020, the Edenville and Samford dams in Midland County, Michigan, were breached after heavy rains described as a “once in 500-year” event. The dam disaster impacted over 20,000 residential properties leaving many property and business owners facing vast repair costs without the coverage of flood insurance.
Natural disasters like these and the hurricane season underscore the importance of flood insurance. State agencies and news outlets throughout the country are reminding people of the many reasons to obtain flood insurance and urging property owners to purchase flood insurance sooner rather than later. One of those many reasons, which was evident in the Michigan dam disaster, is that more than 20% of flood claims come from properties outside the high-risk flood zone. Homeowners and renters insurance exclude coverage for flood damage, and the damage from just one inch of water can cost more than $20,000 to remediate.
Flood insurance may be purchased through either an insurance agent or an insurer participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Finally, keep in mind that typically there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase until a flood insurance policy goes into effect, though there are exceptions. So, as hurricane season is already underway, time is of the essence to consider and purchase flood insurance.