Guest Column: The reality and need for flood insurance

In the wake of Super Storm Sandy last October 2012, and April flooding events in the Midwest, the reality and need for flood insurance once again becomes an important topic. With 98 percent of Marco Island laying within the Special Flood Hazards Area (SHFA) many residents are already bound by their lenders to the mandatory purchase of federally backed flood insurance. Many new homeowners are surprised to find out that their homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding.

Even if a single family residence is located in an area outside the SFHA and is mortgage free, obtaining a flood insurance policy while not required is a wise decision. Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to your residence.

Important facts about the purchase of flood insurance and what is covered.

The cost to insure a property against flood damage is determined by risk associated factors such as the year of building construction, number of floors, level of flood risk and the amount of coverage required by lender. This amount should be based on the cost to rebuild, which can be obtained from your homeowners insurance company.

The maximum insurance amount allowed by law is $250,000 for the structure. Contents coverage is optional and should not be required by the lender. Contents coverage does cost extra (and is limited to $100,000).

According to FEMA, the following items are considered part of the building’s structure:

- The insured building and its foundation.

- The electrical and plumbing systems.

- Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces and water heaters.

- Refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances such as dishwashers.

- Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor.

- Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases and cabinets.

- Window blinds.

- Detached garages up to 10 percent of building property coverage (detached buildings other than garages require a separate building property policy).

- Debris removal.

What is not covered by FEMA

As specified by FEMA, lots of important and expensive items are not covered by flood insurance. You will need to purchase additional personal property coverage if you are worried about the cost of replacing the following items:

- Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture and electronic equipment.

- Curtains.

- Portable and window air conditioners.

- Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers.

- Carpets not included in building coverage (see above).

- Clothes washers and dryers.

- Food freezers and the food in them.

- Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500).

Additionally, neither building nor personal property flood insurance will cover the following:

Damage caused by moisture, mildew or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner.

- Currency, precious metals and valuable papers such as stock certificates.

- Property and belongings outside of a building such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs and swimming pools.

- Living expenses such as temporary housing.

- Financial losses caused by business interruption or loss of use of insured property

Most self-propelled vehicles such as cars, including their parts.

Here is some important information that may affect resident’s premium rates during the next few years.

The Flood Insurance reform Act of 2012, known as the Biggert-Waters Act, was passed last summer by congress. This new law will eliminate many of the artificially low rates and premium discounts which can no longer be sustained by the federal government. These Changes will increase flood insurance premium rates for some residents and business owners on Marco Island.

Residents and business owner impacted include:

n Owners of non-primary/secondary pre firm residences (structures built before September 14, 1979) in a Special Flood Hazard Area will see 25 percent increases annually until rates reflect true risk, which began January 1, 2013.

- Owners of property which have experienced severe or repeated flooding will see 25 percent rate increases annually until rates reflect true risk beginning October 1, 2013.

- Owners of business properties in a Special Flood Hazard Area will see a 25 percent rate increase annually until rates reflect true risk beginning October 1, 2013.

The increases will be phased in over three to four years. Primary residences that have a subsidized policy will not see any rate changes and continue at the same rate they currently have unless they hit any of the four triggers listed below.

- A newly purchased NFIP policy after July 6, 2012. (The date of the Biggert-Waters Act).

- Any lapse in a subsidized policy.

- A change in ownership of home.

- If the property should suffer repetitive flood losses.

While navigating these flood waters may seem difficult, it’s important to remember the City of Marco Island has qualified personnel available to provide flood protection information and assistance and other services including:

- Providing flood insurance rate maps and information;

- Flood insurance purchase requirements;

- Provide names of consultants and contractors knowledgeable in retrofitting techniques;

- Conducting a site visit to discuss possible flood protection measures; and

- Pre-plan reviewing and critiquing retrofitting plans prior to submitting drawings to the building department.

Should you have any questions regarding any of these issues you may contact, Chris Sparacino, CFM, Planner / Floodplain Coordinator at (239) 389-3947 or via email at

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 1

Rosegarden writes:

Stop FEMA Now is a group of concerned citizens, who have not only been affected by Hurricane Sandy, but who have been impacted on varying levels by the implications of the new FEMA flood maps. The decision to adopt these maps is premature and requires additional consideration. We want to, quite simply, Stop FEMA Now!

Our goal is to create community awareness as the adoption of these maps will heavily impact many communities across this country. These maps will tear many from their homes, force many to make harsh decisions about their futures with no real place to turn and ultimately change our lives. The financial implications alone are frightening!

We are faced with many unanswered questions and very little direction. Stop FEMA Now intends to provide a fact based argument as to how and why we can rebuild stronger and more resilient with a more “realistic” approach. Together we will prevail!

Stop FEMA Now is New Jersey based but is the “voice of the country”. We welcome everyone from all states to join and share information. Please like us on Facebook.

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