Hurricanes

Even inland, flood insurance is a good idea

Posted September 2, 2010 5:25 p.m. EDT
Updated September 2, 2010 5:29 p.m. EDT

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. 

Some residents of the Brookhill Townhouse Apartments in Raleigh learned a hard lesson about flood insurance when a downpour flooded units last June.

"I just started crying, really I did," resident Latonya Muldrow said.

Jason Kim, a North Carolina State University student, had renters insurance, but it didn't include a flood policy to cover his belongings destroyed by water.

"It was just water coming, through the door, everywhere," Kim said.

North Carolinians should know several important facts about flooding.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Flood insurance is affordable and easy to get. A policy to cover a $250,000 home and its contents costs about $300 a year. The average cost of damage from a couple inches of water is $8,000 to $10,000.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.