Hurricanes

Learn about flood insurance

Posted July 25, 2009
Updated May 9

North Carolina's hurricane history teaches that flooding can happen anywhere.

Only an inch of water can cause significant damage in homes, and homeowners and renters insurance typically doesn't cover flooding.

Yet many North Carolinians haven't even thought about flood insurance. 

In 2010, remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole dumped up to 23 inches of rain on eastern and coastal North Carolina.

The flooding extended from Carolina Beach, where people paddled through flood waters on kayaks, to Johnston County.

There, debris built up under an overpass on Hannah's Cree, leaving the water no place to flow but the yard of the DeSilva family's home. It made their home into an island.

"I don't feel good at all. Not like this," Cliff DeSilva said.

North Carolinians should know several important facts about flooding.

We all live in a flood zone. Seemingly calm creeks can turn into raging rivers within hours, and you don't have to live near a waterway to be flooded. Flooding can be caused by storms, melting snow or drainage system back-ups. About 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas labeled low risk.

The basic rule is that homeowners and renters insurance covers damage caused by falling water (i.e. rain or snow); rising water (i.e., flooding) is not covered under most plans.

Flood insurance is affordable and easy to get. A policy to cover a $250,000 home and its contents costs less than $400 a year. The average cost of damage from a couple inches of water is $8,000 to $10,000. Renters also need separate flood insurance to cover their belongings. 

Make sure you know what you own. Take a household inventory. Go through your home, and take pictures or video of all your furniture and valuables. Store the documents somewhere other than your home.

Don't want until it's too late to buy flood insurance. There is a 30-day waiting period from the time of purchase until the policy takes effect.

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