Last week, FEMA came out and encouraged Californian’s to purchase flood insurance as El Niño is approaching this winter.
In California, flooding seems like a distance memory as the State has been in a 4-year drought, however, FEMA cautions Californian’s to take the threat seriously and be ready because when they may need the coverage, it may not be available.
Larry “Moe” Hernandez, of Steele Insurance Agency in Antioch, explained that some of his clients have brought it up, but for most part clients do not have flood insurance on their radar.
“Some people have brought it up, but for the most part people are still not in that mind-set because of the sunshine and drought but I am sure when the rain comes they will look into it,” said Hernandez. ”It should be on peoples radar because it will come sooner than people think.”
Dirk Zeigler, of Zeigler Insurance in Brentwood, agreed saying people should consider planning before its too late. He encouraged folks to speak with your agent and ensure your home has the most up-to-date map information which helps set your rate.
“Most people do not look at Flood Insurance because they pin it on cost. Even in Brentwood along Marsh Creek that if you go to one address they are required to have it, but next door they are not in a flood zone. People sometimes hire survey’s who then update the maps which could save you hundreds of dollars,” explained Zeigler. “Someone in Sacramento was paying $2,000 because they were in a low level, a survey’s who then caused maps to be updated and premiums changed to $600 per year. Its going to vary everywhere you go but it never hurts to be prepared with up-to-date information and mapping.”
Both Hernandez and Zeigler noted most people are not aware of the 30-day wait period for anyone already in a home. While a brand new home purchase is immediate, those already in a home looking to add flood insurance must wait 30-days for the coverage to begin.
“Currently the experts are saying the rain is likely to come in January, however, what happens if they are wrong and it comes in December? Today is October 26, those who sign up today are not covered until November 26. The longer you wait in an El Nino winter, the higher your risk goes up,” explained Hernandez. “I really encourage you to not wait until after the fact whether you call me or another agent, please ensure your most valuable assets are protected.”
Hernandez noted that Contra Costa has many flood areas and people who need flood insurance or may want to find a better rate have options. He noted that a recent client had a FEMA policy written and her premium was $1,650. He said he helped her find a new policy at just $759 which included better coverage.
Zeigler highlights that people need to decide how much their home and assets are worth them and how much they are going to invest in being prepared.
“The question is how much is your home and assets worth to you. Being prepared isn’t looking at it as flood insurance necessarily. Look at it like what if the power goes out. Do we have water, canned food, do we have a place to escape to? Flooding doesn’t always have to be rain, it could be sewer backup or flooding from outside your house. You want to confirm that with your carrier that you are covered and for what types of incidents you may experience.”
Zeigler also notes that other issues may come up which will impact areas across the state, some which may apply here where areas that have sustained fire damage. When it rains, there is going to be a lot of water runoff and mudslides people need to worry about–highlighting Marsh Creek Road, Clayton and parts of Antioch, Brentwood and Pittsburg.
According to FEMA which cited data where 37% of all flood insurance claims have come as a result of two winters, 1982-83 and 1997-98 in which both had El Nino conditions. In both those winters, serious rainfall caused flooding, mud-slides and other catastrophic damage that was beyond prevention. FEMA also highlighted that just 30-to-50 percent of people living in very high hazard areas nationwide have flood insurance at present.
Areas in Contra Costa with the biggest flood zone includes Bethel Island. Meanwhile, the City of Oakley has a good amount of flood zones while Antioch has some in their downtown area which is prone to flood during heavy rain. Another area with a large amount of flood zones is the City of Martinez.
FEMA has posted its flood risk maps and tips to reduce flood risk, www.floodsmart.gov.
Experts say that homeowners should check their roofs for areas that could leak, caulk drafty windows and doors, and trim dead trees that are near buildings. They also should take videos of their possessions in every room, and store that video out of their home, either in the Internet cloud or another location. And they should update emergency kits with flashlights, battery powered radios, bottled water and other supplies.
For more information on Flood Insurance or other types of insurance, you may contact:
- Larry “Moe” Hernandez, call him at (925) 757-1000.
- Dirk Zeigler, call him at (925) 634-1249