With rain in the forecast, what should you know about flood insurance

The Central Coast is finally getting some much-needed rain, but if you are not prepared, you could be impacted by flooding.

“Historically, we have seen flooding down in the Oceano area, in the houses near the lagoon as well as Highway 1, sometimes near the coast down in South County we see flooding, Cambria is also historically prone to flooding,” said Rachel Dion, San Luis Obispo County’s Emergency Services Coordinator.

Water can accumulate quickly, so here is a quick fix.

“Just be aware, have sandbags on hand if you need to protect the front or back of your home. You can certainly move certain belongings to higher areas in your house, don’t keep them on the floor,” Dion recommended.

But if you’re thinking of a long-term game plan, you might want to double check your insurance policy.

“Your standard homeowner policy is going to cover you for basic coverages — wind, fire and theft,” said Michael Barry, Insurance Information Institute Chief Communications Officer. “In order to be covered for flood-caused damage — by flooding, we are talking about water coming from the ground up — you need a separate flood insurance policy. This goes for renters as well.”

The National Flood Insurance Program, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has been around since 1968.

“An inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage,” said FEMA spokesperson David Passey.

It is important to take a look at a FEMA map to see if you are in a high-risk area but even if you are not, you are not immune to flooding.

“In the last few years, 40% of the flood insurance claims paid have been for areas outside of high-risk areas,” Passey said.

He says the average cost for flood insurance in California is around $900 per year. Several factors are taken into account.

“[The] flood zone you’re in, how much insurance you’re buying, the expected height between your building or home and the expected flood level,” Passey said.

He added that a policy will cover the following: “Carpeting, wood flooring, other floors that might be damaged by the flood that’s covered by the building policy. Contents covers furniture, removable appliances like a refrigerator.”

Vehicle damage would not fall under this policy but there are other options.

“When it comes to auto insurance, as long as a driver has purchased the optional comprehensive coverage, and nearly 80% of drivers do purchase that, that’s going to cover you for flood-caused damage,” Barry said. “Four out of five Americans have opted to buy comprehensive coverage, and it covers you for so many things in terms of a tree falling on your vehicle, it covers you for vandalism.”

If you decide to purchase flood insurance, you must know that it takes 30 days for it to take effect. To learn more, click here.

According to FEMA, the only exception would be if you just bought a property and flood insurance is required for that transaction.

If you are in a flood-prone area, the San Luis Obispo County Emergency Services also recommends having your phones fully charged and putting together an emergency kit with non-perishable food items and medications.

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