What is Flooding? It is important to review the definition of flood on a flood insurance policy. Definitions can differ depending on the carrier that best fits your needs. FEMA defines flood as "A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the polichyolder's property...". A policy from NCIP has a broader definition that triggers coverage more easily. "Flood means physical damage caused by a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from surface water..."
Heavy Rainfall Intense rainfall on dry soil can often produce flooding. Most residential areas are designed to drain water into basins and reservoirs. However, prolonged heavy rainfall can cause these systems to become clogged or overburdened, and that’s when flooding can occur. During a heavy thunderstorm, rivers or streams can go from 6 inches deep to a 10-foot raging river in under an hour.
Storm Surges A storm surge is an abnormal rise in water from wind related events like cyclones or hurricanes. Storm surges are caused by water that is pushed towards the shore by wind, causing extreme flooding in coastal areas. An example of a storm surge is Hurricane Katrina, which had sustained winds of 175 mph. Melting Snow Mountain snowpack provides an essential water source for many communities. However, abnormal weather patterns during the melting period, like unseasonably warm temperatures or heavy rainfall, can cause rivers and streams to quickly rise above their borders. Some of the most significant flooding events were the result of melting snow.
Dams or Levees Breaking Heavy rainfall and rising flood waters can put a strain on water containment structures like dams or levees. Many older dams have not been properly maintained, and unexpected flood waters can cause these dams to break. For example, heavy rainfall in Midland, Michigan during May of 2020 caused two dams to break, unleashing a sudden surge of water and mudflow that rose 10 feet above the flood stage.
Large-scale Wildfires For up to 5 years after a wildfire, flood risk is significantly higher in the area until vegetation is restored. As rainwater moves across the charred surface, debris left from a fire can pick up soil and sediment and cause significant flood damage.
Flash Floods Flash Floods are considered to be the most dangerous type of flood because they can happen with little to no warning. Flash Floods can be caused by heavy rainfall, melting snow, levee and dam failures, and recent burn areas experiencing heavy run off or rainfall. Any of the aforementioned flood causes can spur a flash flood.
Floods Can Happen Anywhere As an insurance agent, you want to make sure your clients have all of the coverage they need. Even if they are not in a flood zone that requires them to purchase insurance, they could still be at risk!
As an Insurance Agent, How Can I Help My Clients? According to a report by Fannie Mae, most people think they know which flood zone they’re in, but they really don’t! You can help by determining your customer’s risk and helping them obtain adequate coverage for their property.
Your clients will be looking to their insurance agent to inform them of any possible risk to their most valuable asset, their home. They may be completely unaware of their flood risk. Become appointed today and make sure your customers are protected from the very real risk of flood damage.
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