ALACHUA COUNTY - Did you know that flooding is our nation's #1 natural disaster? In the last decade (1996-2005), annual flood losses in the United States averaged $2.4 billion per year. While nearly 5 million Americans are protected by flood insurance policies, millions more homeowners remain uninsured and are at risk. Many of these uninsured homeowners are unprepared for a flood and do not realize that their homeowners' insurance does not cover them in the event of a devastating flood.
Navigating the world of flood insurance can be tricky and confusing at times, but websites like www.floodsmart.gov can provide simple invaluable information for homeowners looking for a place to start and the attached FEMA Homeowner's Flood Checklist provides a basic tip sheet. Additionally, Alachua County Emergency Management is available to answer other questions homeowners may have. Below, you will find the topics homeowners wish to have clarified most often:
1)If you own your home (i.e. you do not have a mortgage), you are not required to purchase flood insurance.
While not purchasing flood insurance is certainly taking a risk, no one can force you to purchase flood insurance if you own your home outright. If, however, you wish to purchase flood insurance and, based on the previous FIRMs (Flood Insurance Rate Map), your home was not in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), you are eligible for a non-SFHA policy. This is also called an X-Zone policy. Typically, this type of policy costs significantly less than the same policy on a home located inside the SFHA. Please note that if you sell your home, the buyer will be required to purchase a policy based on the home's location on the current FIRMs.
2)If you have a mortgage and, based on previous FIRMs, your house was not in the SFHA but now, based on the new FIRMs, is located inside the SFHA, your mortgage company will most likely require you to purchase a flood insurance policy.
However, you also are eligible for an X-Zone policy. It is suggested that a homeowner not allow the mortgage lender to assign a policy unless the homeowner has personally verified that it is the appropriate policy for the home. Insurance companies that do not write flood insurance will go through the federal government for coverage; and, these policies are more expensive than using a Write your Own (WYO) company. Bear in mind that most major flood insurance providers are WYO companies.
3)If concerned residents whose homes were not located in the previous SFHA and are not located in an SFHA on the current FIRM still wish to purchase flood insurance, they should purchase a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). These policies are only available on structures that were not in the previous SFHA, are not on the current (SFHA) FIRMs and have never suffered flood damage. Although PRPs have only limited coverage, they will provide some protection. These policies generally run $100 to $125 dollars per year.
4)Please note that should a homeowner purchase a required flood insurance policy but fail to renew it in a timely manner and the home is subsequently flooded while uninsured, FEMA will only reimburse the homeowner with a set amount minus the flood insurance premiums that would have been paid had the policy been renewed; and, FEMA will not honor the terms of the policy as the premiums were not paid to keep it in force.
For more information regarding flood insurance homeowners are encouraged to log on to http://growth-management.alachua.fl.us/mapper. City of Gainesville residents can call the City of Gainesville’s flood information line at 352-334-5069 and residents living outside the City’s limits may call the Alachua County flood information line at 352-337-6140.