Category Archives: flood insurance

Storm Preparation 101!

by Peter Andersen

 

There was a time when the idea of a hurricane in the tri-state area was not taken seriously. “A hurricane? In New York? Nope, not going to happen”. Until a few years ago, we were all pretty sure that any hurricane that ran up the east coast would weaken, reduce to a fraction of its former self, and become a glorified late summer storm. Sandy set us straight, though, didn’t she? A perfect combination of weather events allowed for a devastating landfall, as high tides rolled across Manhattan, trees tore down power lines across the region, historic covered bridges were washed away across Vermont, and much of the region went dark.

What did we learn? Hopefully, we learned enough to be better prepared the next time. We learned not to assume. We learned that even unexpected things happen at unexpected times (A hurricane in OCTOBER???). Hopefully, we also learned that we have to be smart and proactive to minimize the impact a storm like this can have on our lives.

From an insurance perspective, there are quite a few things you can do in preparation. Be sure your home is properly insured, your auto has comprehensive coverage (a co-worker here at Levitt-Fuirst had her car flattened by a tree during Sandy), and that you have documented your valuable articles in case there is damage to your home and its contents. Flood insurance was a key coverage for many during Sandy, if you haven’t already, give yourself a flood primer in our piece from July 21st.

Outside of the house, there is much you should do as well. Another of our posts mentioned keeping your trees trimmed for the summer, but this is really a 4 season rule. In the summer, we have regular heavy storms and occasional named storms that come through, and ice storms, snow storms and blizzards wreak havoc from October through April – it isn’t easy being a tree! Keep them pruned and healthy to minimize the damage they can cause to power lines, roofs, and other structures on your property. Also, be sure to clear your lawn of anything that could be blown by the wind – these can be dangerous projectiles in a big wind event.

Inside the home, close your windows, turn up your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings in case of a power outage. For short term emergencies, you should have supplies on hand such as plenty of canned food, water, and cash. After 9-11, myself and many other New York City residents were prompted to create Emergency Kits – first aid, food, money, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets. These were important items for the horror of those days, but they also would come in handy during any storm or event that takes out your power for more than a day or two.

Do you have a plan for those occasions when the power goes out for an extended period of time? Sandy saw homes without power for weeks! In those longer term power-loss events, perhaps a generator would be a worthy investment? Make sure to locate friends or family that would welcome you should you need to relocate, and make an evacuation plan. Be sure to gas up your cars! I think we all learned that the hard way – with major storms come major gas supply problems. If a storm is on the move, gas up your cars and use them as little as possible – when you need to get out of town, that foresight might be the difference between securely arriving at your destination, and using your last fumes searching for an open and operational gas station.

For so many years, we were lulled into a false sense of security that our region was secure from large scale events, be it hurricanes, terrorism, or huge regional blackouts due to a domino effect of power station problems from Ohio to New York. The idea is not to know exactly what will come next, but rather to be as prepared as possible for ANYTHING that could come next. Simple steps and precautions can help you as you endure events that are beyond your control, protecting yourself and your family, and speeding your financial recovery in the face of damage to your home or property.

 Hurricane Preparation Links:

Coverage of the Week: Personal Flood Insurance

by Alan Mani

Fuirst Flood

Here at Levitt-Fuirst, we pride ourselves on providing excellent service to our customers. Whatever they need help with or need help understanding, we have them covered. That is why we have started our “Coverage of the Week” blog.  In it, we will discuss a particular coverage, to educate and clarify a particular topic.

Today?  Today we are talking Flood Insurance. What is it, when do I purchase it, do I need it? Well, with the help of one of our personal lines members Erica Faigman, we have the answers down below just keep reading!

What is flood insurance?

Flood insurance covers direct physical loss caused by “flood.” In simple terms, a flood is an excess of water on land that is normally dry.

Who should have flood insurance? Do I need it?

Every home in our region should have flood insurance – and that is the case for most of the US. It is a matter of where and how your home is setup that determines the cost. Homes are placed in flood zones based on that area’s likelihood to flood. One thing to remember is that no matter where you are, you are in a flood zone; it’s just a matter of how susceptible that area is to flooding. A house can be in a flood zone x which means they are low risk or they can be in a flood zone a or v which are high risk zones.

During hurricane Sandy, flood damage was wide spread as oceans encroached, rivers rose, creeks flooded, and rain poured down. Coastal homes in Greenwich, and inland homes in Armonk flooded alike, the Saw Mill River and the Bronx River crested. The point? You just never know, so preparation is key.

How much does it cost?

The answer to this question takes a few variables into consideration. If you are in a zone x, b, or c there are no further variables to consider. The cost to insure a zone x, b, or c house is not very expensive; maybe $500 a year.  There is something called base flood elevation (BFE), which is a strong determinant of your flood policy pricing. BFE is where the water level is expected to rise during a storm. If your house is above the BFE you will have a cheaper premium as opposed to someone whose house is below the BFE.

Now if you are in anything BUT an X, B, or C zone, you will need an Elevation Certificate which is the document that will tell you what BFE you are. Without an Elevation Cert, your insurance carrier will give you the highest rate. Usually the Bank will order one before they approve a Mortgage, but if not, you will need to contact an engineer yourself.

When do I purchase it?

In certain high risk flood zones, you HAVE to purchase it in order to get a mortgage. If you are in this situation, you probably already have it! What about the rest of us, in those zones that are less likely to flood? If we learned anything from Hurricane Sandy, you should purchase this as soon as you can! When purchasing a flood policy, there is a 30 day waiting period before the coverage kicks in, so it is important to be proactive and not wait until a storm is approaching to request a policy.

Flood insurance is an extremely important piece of your homeowners’ insurance puzzle. To truly know your risk, and to get an estimate for the coverage, you need to contact your insurance broker. Levitt-Fuirst places flood insurance for our clients across the nation, and can certainly help you with this important coverage. Contact us with questions, we will do all we can to help.

 These links have some great information, take the time to learn more about Flood Insurance!

What does flood insurance cover?  Houselogic clarifies.

Flood Insurance Myths and Facts, from About.com