Flood Risk in Florida: The Truth About Flood Zones

Hurricane Ian has illustrated the Flood Risk in Florida.

In insurance terms, Flood is the inundation of normally dry land. Flooding can occur from tidal or storm surge, rain, storms, overflow of lakes, ponds, rivers, canals, streams etc. Failure of dams, dikes, retaining walls etc. are common causes of flooding.

FEMA has flood maps designating the Flood Risk for all locations. Properties are determined to be in Special/High Hazard Flood Zones (Zones AE, AH, AO and VE) and Regular/Low Risk Flood Zones (Zone B,C and X).

We often hear people say “I am not in a Flood Zone” when they really mean they are not in a High Hazard Zone.

Being in a Regular Flood Zone DOES NOT mean you are not at risk of flooding. The majority of Flooding from Hurricane Ian was in Regular Flood Zones. The Orlando area suffered extensive flooding. Orlando is 40 miles inland and 150 miles from Ft. Meyers.

South Florida is flat, paved with roads and shopping centers and has countless lakes, ponds, canals, an ocean, and the Everglades. Yes, the Flood Risk in South Florida is ever present. Most real estate is within a short distance of a High Hazard Flood Zone. Check your property on the FEMA Flood maps.

Most home insurance policies and commercial property policies EXCLUDE FLOOD claims. Flood Insurance is reasonably inexpensive. FEMA subsidizes many Flood premiums. In addition to the National Flood Insurance Program there is now a competitive and active Private Flood Insurance market. The private market can offer lower premiums and higher/broader coverage terms and limits.

For example, our owner’s home is in a Regular Flood zone but is almost completely surrounded by High Hazard Flood Zone AH. In heavy rains the two ponds behind his house overflow and become a single body of water. In addition, the road in his community floods and his house becomes an island. Please check your proximity to Flood prone areas.

The choice to insure or self-insure Flood Risk is yours. Remember that the risk does not change if you buy or do not buy insurance. The Financial Risk of a Flood Loss is yours to keep or transfer through insurance. Please make an educated and informed decision.

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