Most standard homeowner insurance policies do not cover flooding. This is a large gap in coverage that everybody should be aware of. Whether you live in a single family home, townhouse, or condominium this is a risk that can affect you regardless of the flood zone you are in.
Flood insurance rate maps use flood zones to determine the probability of a flood in a given area. It might come as a surprise that you are in a flood zone even though you were told you are not. This is because everyone is in a flood zone on a flood map, but each zone indicates a different probability. You might be in a zone that has less probability of flooding, and requires less underwriting.
This can be clarified by the type of flood insurance you qualify for (standard rating or Preferred Risk Policy). A property written with a standard rated flood insurance policy has a probability 1% or more for flooding. These policies are rated individually based on the data provided on an elevation certificate. Whereas a property written with a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) has a probability of 0.2% or less for flooding (1). These properties do not require the use of an elevation certificate to write a flood insurance policy. It is typical practice for lenders to require flood insurance on properties that are found in the zones that are 1% or greater probability for flooding.
According the the National Flood Insurance Program, flooding is caused by four primary sources:
- Heavy Rains
- Flash Floods (1)
From June through October South Florida experiences its wet season. During this period South Florida experiences 70% of its rainfall for the year (2). The US Army Corps of Engineers constructed the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee from 1932 – 1938 (3). In the 1950’s and 1960’s the US Army Corps of Engineers built the current levee system (4). This is why we see so many canals here in South Florida.
The purpose of the dikes and levees was to prevent Lake Okeechobee from flooding down into the Everglades (5). This originally was to protect the agricultural industry (6). However, as South Florida has grown in population it is obvious that preventing annual floods is necessary for preventing property damage, in addition to death and injury.
Historically, Lake Okeechobee floods during the wet season. This has been exacerbated by hurricanes, heavy rains, and recent shifts in weather patterns. Because of the US Army Corps of Engineers we are able to enjoy this wonderful landscape without flooding, but nothing is perfect. Over the last decades there have consistently been water level concerns with the lake, and it is monitored regularly by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Considering this, it only makes sense to carry coverage for flood insurance, especially when the average cost is $700 per year (Preferred Risk Policies range from $137-$405) (7).