Hurricane season is over. Is now the best time to buy flood insurance?

by Pat Howard
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Hurricane season is over. Is now the best time to buy flood insurance?

Hurricane Sebastien marked the end of the 2019 hurricane season, which runs each year from June through late November. If your home isn’t regularly impacted by bad storms or flooding, that may be the only time of year to worry about having enough coverage.

But being proactive and getting a flood insurance policy in the immediate weeks or months after hurricane season may be the smarter move. Here’s why.

You have more time to shop

Flood insurance is traditionally serviced through Federal Emergency Management Agency via the National Flood Insurance Program, but the NFIP isn’t the only choice for consumers — private market flood insurance is also available in hurricane-affected communities.

Why would homeowners want to consider private flood insurance over the government program?

Government flood insurance has strict coverage limits — the most it’ll pay out is $250,000 for the home itself and $100,000 for contents. Many private policies will insure your home up to its replacement value, regardless of the amount. Private flood insurance also offers a wider array of coverages — like financial compensation if a flood interrupts your home business, or living expenses if you need to relocate elsewhere while your property is being repaired.

You have more coverage options than you think, so don’t wait until the last minute to shop and compare.

There is a waiting period on flood insurance

Similar to health insurance, disability insurance and homeowners insurance, flood insurance has a waiting period.

This is the period of time between when the policy is issued and when it's activated. The government flood insurance waiting period is 30 days, so if you purchase your flood insurance on June 1st and your home is flooded in a tropical storm surge on the 20th, you won’t receive a flood insurance payout for the assessed damage.

If you’re considering flood insurance, buy it far in advance of wet season to avoid being handicapped by the waiting period.

There may be a moratorium on flood insurance

When a moratorium is issued, insurers refuse to take on new policies and customers can’t make coverage changes to their existing policies.

Keep in mind that the federal program is required to provide flood insurance to homes all times of the year — even during a flood disaster — but private market companies don’t have to. So, they can issue a moratorium on flood policies during tropical storm season.

“When it comes to protection against natural disasters, it’s important to not wait till the last minute,” said Fabio Faschi, property and casualty lead at Policygenius. “With hurricane season coming to a close this year, now is a good time to re-evaluate if flood coverage could be right for you and what your options are.”

Being proactive can save you money

Flood insurance can be expensive in high-risk areas, but there are steps you can take long before hurricane season to adequately prepare your home for next year.

Get an elevation certificate. An elevation certificate is a certified document that states how likely your home is to getting flooded based on two things: the elevation of the floodplain and relative elevation of your home. If you don’t have an elevation certificate, insurance companies may assume the worst and charge you higher premiums. An elevation certificate confirming your home actually isn’t at risk of costly flooding could drastically lower your rates.
Get a Letter of Map Amendment. If you feel that you’re overpaying for flood insurance, it could be because your home was incorrectly placed in a high-risk flood zone, according to FEMA flood maps. If you think your home is in a lower risk area, you have the option of requesting a Letter of Map Amendment t. Homes in moderate or low-risk areas are often eligible for “preferred risk” policies as cheap as $200 a year.
Make structural improvements. You can also use the period of time between now and hurricane season to make structural improvements to your home. Not only will your home be more adequately prepared for disasters, but home fortifications and retrofitting can also lower your insurance premiums.

_Just experienced a natural disaster? Here’s how to file a homeowners insurance claim._

Image: Rolokas