Floods have claimed more lives and property than any other natural disaster overt the past century, and it isn’t just happening along the coast. Major flooding has occurred in every state as a result of hurricanes, rising waters, severe rain and even melting snow.
Flood insurance is available to help property owners protect themselves. That insurance option represents an alternative to expensive, taxpayer-funded disaster relief, and according to experts at the 2016 National Association of Realtors® Conference and Expo, it’s an important part of owning property of all kinds.
“Every building you will be working with has a need to be protected,” said Melanie M. Graham of H2O Partners. Graham made her comments at a forum entitled “Never Underestimate Your Client’s Flood Risk.”
Maria Wells, chair of NAR’s Insurance Committee, echoed that sentiment as she moderated the event. Wells said opting out of flood insurance is “a really big mistake with what we know now.” She added that “when we’re working with our buyers, it’s important to inform them of the devastation that can occur if they aren’t covered.”
Having a flood insurance policy in hand, Graham said, is the “best position” property owners can find themselves in following a disaster. She reminded the audience that flooding often occurs outside the so-called “high risk” areas, and called the idea that property owners get a payout after a presidential disaster declaration “a myth.”
To help prepare clients to make these decisions, Wells suggested Realtors® get to know a trusted insurance agent who can answer tough questions. She also encouraged those in attendance to form a relationship with the state floodplain manager as Realtors® build their portfolio of outside experts.
Earlier this year, Wells helped NAR announce a series of proposals to address flood concerns across the country.
NAR supports a range of policy solutions to ensure access to affordable flood insurance. Among them, NAR is urging legislators to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, which provides affordable flood insurance to residential and commercial property owners in flood plains. Currently, the NFIP is responsible for writing and renewing flood insurance policies for more than 5 million home and business owner.
The program is set to expire in September of 2017 unless Congress takes action before then.