NEW HANOVER COUNTY,NC (WWAY) — A common misconception is that homeowners’ policies cover flood damage, but the truth is most don’t.
The North Carolina Department of Insurance held town hall meetings Tuesday to tell homeowners what they should be nailing down, before the next storm hits.
FEMA reports more than 20% of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims filed are from people outside of high risk areas. FEMA also reports floods are the most common and costly natural disaster. So, if you don’t have insurance yet, get it now. A policy takes effect 30 days after purchase.
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Program Group Supervisor Jerry Frye recommends being “flood smart” and not waiting.
“We like to joke, but if you live in an area where it can rain, there is a good possibility that it can some point flood,” Frye said. “If you’re not familiar with or don’t know what your zone is you can contact your insurance agent.”
Flood maps change over time and areas not impacted in the past could be in the future.
Standard policies include wind and hail, flood and homeowner, but insurance agents also suggest an umbrella policy for personal items.The average FEMA grant is $4,300, but the average NFIP claim is $115,000.
So, if you want a better return, it’s best to have insurance as one Rocky Point woman learned the hard way.
“Doctors tell me to get away from the stress, but I can’t get away from the stress,” Cynthia Owens said. “It’s all right here.”
Owens is struggling to find a solution after FEMA denied her claim three times. She did not have flood insurance and can’t survive in her home, which is infested with mold from flood damage and water seeping in through a patchy roof.
“I’ve got foundation separation and I attribute all of that to the weight that comes down on the house and all the water that rushed down from the subdivision [behind my home] and down the hill to here,” Owens said.
Before she lets go of her Rocky Point home of 15 years, Owens attended the North Carolina Department of Insurance town hall for answers. Frye says there is another option.
“If there has been a determination by the local community that their home is considered substantially damaged, then they can file a claim for increased cost of compliance or ICC that can fund them up to $30,000,” Frye said.
But, Owens says this disaster aftermath has sent her to the hospital 4 times since Florence.
“When we have storms it scares me because I don’t know if the roof is going to hold,” Owens said.
That is why the meeting is stressing the importance of proper insurance.
“If they’re going to try to continue to live [in your storm damaged home], make sure to be covered by flood insurance,” Frye said.
If you are a renter, make sure you have renter’s insurance. Your landlord’s insurance will not cover storm-related damage to your belongings.