When do homeowners need flood insurance? Insurance agent, realtor say do homework

Flood insurance may save you tens of thousands of dollars when water causes damage to your home, regardless of whether you live in a high-risk flood zone.

Some places in the Birmingham metro often flood when experiencing a heavy rain.

While others think they are immune to flooding because they live on higher ground, under the right conditions, even those areas can go under water.

So when do you get flood insurance?

FEMA flood loss data shows every inch more of water adding thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

This is why the home buyer, not the seller, must do their homework.

Insurance agent Jonathan Scarborough says many homeowners are in for a rude awakening when damage happens.

Scarborough explains, "Usually what happens is that they have a situation and they go to make that claim with their insurance carrier, and that's when they find out that. I'm sorry you don't have flood insurance."

It's because flood insurance comes only through FEMA. According to the FEMA website, you can find a Flood Insurance Rate Map . The FIRM reveals a community's base flood elevations, flood zones and floodplain boundaries. How flood zones are defined can give a homeowner or property owner insight into the level of flood risk they face where they live. Scarborough reiterates that none of this is included within your standard homeowners policy. He says after arriving at a home or business, it comes as a big surprise that no coverage is offered through the standard carrier.

"You walk through there and say hey I'm sorry, that's not covered under your standard insurance policy," he says.

And in Alabama, Realtor Bekah Eaton says due diligence is a necessity before purchasing your house.

Eaton explains, "Alabama has a caveat. The burden is on the buyer in our state to find out what is wrong with the property, and not necessarily with the seller to tell you what is wrong with the property."

If you live in a flood zone, your mortgage lender will require you purchase it. Flood zones can be rated low to moderate risks or higher risk.

But Eaton says it's worth a surveyor checking your property.

"Don't want to have that problem pop up that you are not expecting," explains Eaton.

A survey can determine if a flood zone has changed. Then keep you from overlooking the potential issue.

"It's a very small expense that could turn into a big problem if it is overlooked," says Eaton.

The federal government offers policies of up to $250,000 for residences and then $500,000 for businesses.

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