Tropical Storm Elsa recently provided local residents and business owners with a gentle reminder that hurricane season is once again upon us. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicts that 2021 will have a very active hurricane season between June and the end of November, producing three to ten major hurricanes, six to ten “regular” hurricanes, and 13 to 20 named storms. Of course, not all of these will affect the local area, but residents and business owners are being advised to check if they have flood insurance, even those who do not live in high-risk flood zones.
“The people who are impacted the most when we have these natural disasters that create flood situations are the people who don’t have flood insurance,” said Thomas Vinson of Vinson Insurance in Hampton. “Most people assume that their homeowner’s insurance or business insurance is going to cover a lot of things that they just won’t. One of those things is flood insurance.”
Ben McFarlane, a senior regional planner with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, wants people to understand how important timing is. “The emphasis is on planning now, rather than later, due to the 30-day waiting period before your flood insurance policy goes into effect,” he said.
The Regional Planning Commission, with the help from Hampton and other cities in the region, created a website to help residents and business owners understand their level of risk. They created GetFloodFluent.org to highlight those risks and to provide visitors with an estimate on what flood insurance might cost.
GetFloodFluent.org wants people in Coastal Virginia to be aware of the following 11 things:
- Floods are the most common natural hazard.
- Anywhere it can rain, it can flood.
- Floods can be from overflowing or accumulating water, which can be caused by rainfall.
- The damage from just one inch of water can cost more than $25,000.
- Low-risk does not mean no-risk.
- Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance does not cover flood damage.
- The Virginia Peninsula is surrounded by water.
- Most residents live just a few feet above sea level.
- Our sea level is rising.
- Hampton Roads is sinking.
- Flood insurance pays whether or not federal disaster relief is available.
“Making sure you understand the risks that come with a flood or rising water is going to be a huge difference maker in your ability to remain financially solvent or to be able to overcome the situation if your home or business gets flooded,” said Vinson. “Flood insurance can be a lot more affordable than people think, but I believe there is some apprehension with it because it can sometimes be a little tricky to understand. There are specific requirements of what a flood is that need to be met for the policy to actually pay out. So, taking the time to review your needs with a flood insurance agent is the best way to understand why it’s important.”