Lessons from Hurricane Irma

Lessons from Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma was an unprecedented storm that affected literally everyone in Florida. Most of us were either expecting or experiencing a direct hit. All of us were given at least a glancing blow. Even though the mess remains and recovery efforts are ongoing, it’s not too soon to share what we learned from Hurricane Irma.

Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk has been helping clients prepare for and recover from hurricanes for nearly 40 years, but Hurricane Irma was different. As the steadily intensifying storm made its way toward Florida, we received an unprecedented number of calls from clients asking about flood insurance for their homes and businesses. Why?

Obviously, everyone is concerned when a massive category 5 hurricane is heading their way, but there was another reason. We all saw the catastrophic flooding in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey just a few weeks earlier. The damage was devastating. So was the news that nearly 80% of homeowners in the counties most directly affected by Hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), floods are the most common and costliest natural disaster. Unfortunately, too many businesses refuse to carry flood insurance simply because they are not located in a high-risk flood zone. Neither were a majority of those flooded by Hurricane Harvey.

Flood zones are always being remapped, but it’s a long process that can take years. Updated maps quickly become out-of-date. Moreover, the process of identifying property that is susceptible to flooding is not a perfect science. For example, flood zone determinations fail to adequately consider:

  • Localized drainage issues;
  • Long-term erosion;
  • Ongoing development;
  • Topographic variances on individual properties; or
  • The failure of flood control systems.

This is why every home and business should have flood insurance, regardless of whether they are located in a high-risk flood zone. Premiums are relatively affordable, particularly when you consider the risks assumed by a flood insurance policy, such as the:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters;
  • Collapse of land along a body of water from waves or currents; and
  • Rapid accumulation of surface waters from any source, including blocked storm drains and broken water pipes below the surface of the ground.

Even if the risk of flooding may not be particularly high for your home or business, this is also true of countless other risks covered by insurance policies. Yet, many would never go without insurance to cover their personal homes and cars. Just like they wouldn’t consider going go without general liability insurance, professional liability insurance, employment practices liability insurance or commercial auto insurance to protect their businesses.

Uninsured flood damage can devastate any home or business, even those not located in high-risk flood zones. Over the course of just a few weeks, we’ve seen the landfall of not one, not two, but three hurricanes that rank among the most powerful storms in recorded history.

Those relying on flood zone maps to justify their decision to not purchase flood insurance should seriously reconsider.

Please contact us to learn more about flood insurance for your home and business.

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