Hurricane Irene gave the media a big story to cover for about a week. Soon the coverage of the devastation will give way to the next “Breaking News” alert and those people not directly affected by the storm will forget it.
Not so for those that suffered damage to their homes. Irene came ashore as a category 1 storm packing winds of 100 MPH or less so wind related damage could have been much worse. In fact, the real damage delivered by Irene came from the storm surge and flooded areas located outside of designated FEMA hazard flood zones. Homes in these areas are not required to have flood insurance so most property owners did not have coverage believing that their hurricane policy would protect them. Not true. The only insurance that provides coverage for flood damage is flood insurance.
Most communities prone to hurricanes will have maps showing Storm Surge Zones and Evacuation Routes for each storm category. Even though FEMA flood maps may not require you to carry flood insurance it may still be wise to get it if you live in a storm surge zone.
Here is a link to the Storm Surge Zones and Evacuation Routes for Jacksonville Florida. As shown on the map the storm surge can impact properties far from the coast where residents may feel safe from the coastal effects of hurricanes.
I am frequently asked by home buyers if a home needs flood insurance. I make a clear distinction between what is required and what is needed. If your home is located in an area where storm surge flooding can be expected when hurricanes strike I say it’s best to be protected. Considering that the average flood insurance policy in 2010 cost about $600 a year and the average claim over the last five years wasabout $34,000. Maybe you do need flood insurance.