Wednesday, May 28 2014
When Evansville residents hear about floods, images of homes tumbling into the sea or half-submerged along the banks of a raging river probably leap to mind. But the risk of flooding isn’t confined to those headline-grabbing catastrophes—which is why the recent passage by Congress and signing by the President of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) will be of interest to many people thinking of buying a home.
Sellers are required by law to disclose if a property is in an officially-designated flood zone; and banks typically check this information as well. While it can certainly be off-putting to be informed of this when buying a home, the availability of flood insurance can keep it from being a deal-breaker. But “available” doesn’t necessarily mean “affordable”—which is where HFIAA comes in.
Many prospective homebuyers are only vaguely aware that flood and water damage are not covered under traditional homeowner policies, something that’s newly relevant when buying a home. Part of the reason is because only 5% of the U.S. population lives in an officially designated “Coastal Flood Plain”—so it’s not a much-discussed issue in most parts of the country.
But the coastal areas that do get attention whenever disaster strikes are not the only kinds of flood plains that are relevant. FEMA assesses and maps areas that are subject to flooding, and assigns them letters denoting the likelihood of flood damage. Some of the provisions of the new HFIAA deal with overhauling those procedures, but the most immediately significant parts deal with (you guessed it) cost.
Here a little history will be helpful. In 1968, the National Flood Insurance program was created to help some property owners secure insurance in areas where it had been prohibitively expensive. But, as one might expect, the cost of the program soon became a problem. That in turn triggered passage of another Act—the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012—intended to allow premiums in covered areas to rise to offset their real costs.
The new HFIAA now partially reverses that yet again, because policy-makers fear the effect on the housing market. The new act delays some of the price rises for four years and allows homeowners who sell their homes to pass the lower premiums on to the new homeowners. It’s also relevant that there are two different types of coverage available: dwelling only and dwelling/property. Although dwelling only coverage is cheaper, as you might expect, there’s a good reason: it doesn’t cover the personal belongings that a flood could destroy.
Some zones, like Zone X, are as inexpensive as a few hundred dollars per year. The zones that flood more regularly can run into thousands…and all flood insurance premiums are in addition to the regular home insurance costs. For those buying a home in an area where properties might be classified as within a flood zone, it’s a good idea to check with one of the local insurance companies that offers flood coverage. When all is said and done, only you can decide if it’s worth the risk or not.
If you are thinking of buying a home in this summer, flood insurance is only one of the details you’ll want to consider. Call me today and we can begin by putting together a list of your search criteria. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, March 06 2014
It can be perplexing—and not least because it’s one of the least-discussed details you run into when buying a home. The issue is flood insurance, and it’s sometimes first brought to the fore when you are buying a home in Evansville that you would not have thought was on a “flood plain.” If it is, it’s going to require flood insurance before the bank will sign off on a loan.
As we only see from time to time, devastating floods can strike when and where least expected: sometimes, in areas where that ruinous flooding is unprecedented. In 2005, when FEMA paid out over $17 billion in flood claims, it once again became clear why flood insurance is absolutely necessary. Here’s what you need to know about flood insurance if the home you are looking at is in a flood plain.
The Zone Matters
FEMA assigns different zones within a single flood plain. For example, homes that are located on the bank of a creek may be assigned to Zone A, ( floods highly likely). Homes that are further away from a water source may be assigned to Zone Z, (lower risk). Naturally, Zone Z premiums are a good deal more affordable than premiums for Zone A. In fact, if your home is in a Z zone, you may even qualify for a special price break for two years before full premium goes into effect.
Figuring Out the Cost
Unlike car or home insurance, you won’t find a better rate on flood insurance by shopping around. The federal government sets flood premium rates based on factors like the zone, the home’s value, and the value of its contents. You may choose to insure the home only, but it’s seldom a good idea to leave contents without coverage. Any local insurance agent specializing in flood insurance will be able to assist you in determining the cost of the policy; they will also answer any questions you may have about the process.
Making Your Decision
Buying a local home that turns out to be on considered within a flood plain means factoring in some added insurance expense, and possibly even potential risk to your personal items. But when the house is right, and your heart is absolutely set on the property, it’s a dollars-and-cents calculation. I’m always at the ready to help my clients clarify this and all other the other details that go into buying a home in Evansville. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com