Both Washington and Oregon are projected to have a 5.9% increase in the number of properties with substantial risk of flooding in the next 30 years, yet most homeowners don't carry federal or private flood insurance. If you've been on the fence about adding it to your insurance plan, know that October is a great time to buy.
That's because your protection would be in effect* by the time peak flood events tend to occur in the Northwest, usually following Pineapple Express rain and snowmelt. Also, on Oct. 1, the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) updated the rating systems used to set prices by the National Flood Insurance Program. The new rates are more specific to individual properties, making pricing more equitable (lower priced homes don't inadvertently end up subsidizing higher priced homes) and, for many homeowners, policies are more affordable.
Not everyone needs flood insurance. But as weather patterns change, what were once considered "100-year floods" in some parts of the country now are happening every few years. About one in five flood insurance claims come from homes in low- to moderate-risk areas.
But wait – doesn't my policy already cover flooding?
That's what 43% of homeowners and renters think, according to the Insurance Information Institute. But, unfortunately, that's not correct. Standard homeowner and renter insurance sold in the United States does a great job covering the kind of flooding you get from a burst pipe or washing machine hose. It can do little, though, to help with environmental flooding – the kind you see on the news, like the flooding on the East Coast from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
For that, you need separate flood insurance available through the federal government or specialty private insurers.
How to find out more
While PEMCO doesn't sell flood insurance, we can help you explore your flood insurance options at no cost – a timesaver since our experienced agents know the ins and outs of determining flood zones, getting elevation certificates and working with lenders.
Talk with your local PEMCO agent or call 1-800-GO-PEMCO, ext. 4007, to reach a PEMCO Insurance Agency representative. You can get the conversation started with simple information like the age, square footage and construction characteristics of your home, which we already have on file if you insure your home with PEMCO.
If, after hearing your options, you decide to buy flood insurance, you'll typically pay your first year's premium in advance with a credit card. After that, you can set up payments through your lender (like you probably do now for your homeowners insurance and property tax) or pay directly.
Like environmental flooding, earthquake damage isn't covered by standard homeowner policies. It, too, needs separate coverage from a company that specializes in earthquake risk. In the weeks leading up to the Great Washington and Oregon ShakeOut (Oct. 21), why not get a quote on earthquake coverage? Your local PEMCO agent or a PEMCO Insurance Agency representative at 1-800-GO-PEMCO, ext. 4007, can help you get quotes with different coverage and deductible options.
*Federal flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period before it takes effect – so you don't want to wait until a serious storm is in the forecast to buy it.