Extreme weather is becoming the norm, and its impact is more far-reaching than many expected. (Just look at the recent and multi-state devastation from Hurricane Ida.) Still, when something like flooding occurs, most homeowners assume they’re covered for it with their insurance policy. Buyer beware, says Sean Harper, CEO and co-founder of Kin Insurance, a new data-first, direct-to-consumer home insurance company that uses top-notch AI to better assess and price risk, especially as it relates to climate change. How come? Because flood damage is one of the number one things *not* required in your normal policy.
Wait, flood insurance isn’t a part of my standard policy? Per Harper, even in states like Florida, damage from flooding is not included in your normal, everyday homeowner’s policy. In other words, you have to ask for it to be added on. “It’s really weird that insurance companies require insurance against fire, insurance against hurricane, but they don’t require insurance against flooding,” Harper explains. (Earthquake coverage is another thing not commonly included in your policy, he adds.)
The devil’s in the details. According to Harper, there are some parts of the country where they do require flood insurance, but that’s only if you’re living within a FEMA-designated flood zone. The problem is—and we see this daily with extreme weather events—there are a lot of places that flood. “In fact, 80 percent of all flood damage happens outside a FEMA-designated flood zone,” Harper says. “More places are flooding due to sea levels rising and increased rain, but the other issue is that communities will actually lobby to not be included in a FEMA flood zone because it has an impact on their real estate prices. That makes the issue somewhat political since those lines haven’t been redrawn recently.”
The bottom line. Most people really should have flood insurance, Harper says. If you’re unsure, call and ask about your situation and be sure you know exactly what your policy covers. (For example, what parts of your home are covered should flood damage occur? Your basement? Your garage?) After all, the more you know.