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What You Must Know About Flood Insurance

Generally speaking, get some. Fortunately, most of us are in areas not prone to flood, but because of federal subsidies for the cost, the insurance will be cheap. For those of us on the coast, or close to rivers or other flood prone areas, then your mortgage requires it. Flood insurance also makes good business sense because, in light of losses, it’s far cheaper than it should be.

The flood area map is changing. It should. The previous map was drawn without today’s global satellite imaging, GPS tracking, map data accuracy, and other tools that allow better forecasting. We have a new map, published at http://portal.nwfwmdfloodmaps.com/, which shows both old and new flood projections. If you do nothing more, find a twelve-year-old with a computer, get on that website, and look at the difference between the flood prediction for your location in today’s map and the one beginning May 23 (about three weeks from the day this article first appears).

If the new map shows your home or business to be in a flood area and you have a federally insured loan, as almost all are, the federal law requires you to have flood insurance. If you don’t, you can lock in a rate if you get that insurance now. You can even pass that rate to future borrowers. Federally subsidized flood insurance is only offered through private insurers, and has a standardized rate that is the same wherever you get it. Any insurance company can write it, or if not, can direct you to a source.

If your home or business is not in a flood area in the old map, but the new map changes that, then you should put the paper down right now and go get flood insurance if you can capture today’s rates. The possibility of locking in today’s rate, or at least slowing the future rate of increase, makes your property more marketable to a future purchaser. That’s big.

In your consideration of flood insurance, don’t lose sight of the big picture. There are only two alternatives. One is federal disaster relief, which is unpredictable, often unavailable, generally stupidly applied, and quite possibly unconstitutionally distributed. Don’t count on receiving it. The other is flood insurance. Your homeowner’s or other general insurance policy will not provide flood coverage. The flood insurance program has been abused by homeowners and lawyers, and in spite of recent changes, the premiums are still not enough to make the system actuarially sound. But you have to give FEMA, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, and local building officials, credit for trying to control coastal construction and for their efforts to explain this complex subject to the public. FEMA appears to be trying hard to make flood insurance understandable and the program properly funded.

Mike Chesser

Board Certified Real Estate Attorney

Board Certified, Local Government Law

President, Old South Land Title, Inc.

President, Chesser & Barr, P.A.

1201 Eglin Parkway

Shalimar, FL 32579

# (850) 651-9944

mike@chesserbarr.com

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