Flood risks in New York are increasing. Some areas (such as Westchester, New York) have a particularly high threat of flooding. Here’s what you need to know about your flood risk, planning for an emergency and securing the insurance coverage you need.
NFIP and Private Flood Insurance Options
Your standard home insurance does not cover flood damage. Nor will a standard renters insurance or commercial property insurance. To secure coverage, you must purchase flood insurance. In high-risk areas, mortgage lenders may even require flood insurance.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is available to property owners, renters and businesses in participating NFIP communities, regardless of whether your area is considered high risk. Securing coverage can be a smart move—FEMA says about 25% of all damage claims come from low-to-moderate flood risk areas.
The NFIP has a $250,000 limit for single-family home business building coverage and a $100,000 contents limit. The limit for commercial buildings is $500,000 for buildings coverage and $500,000 for contents.
If the NFIP terms do not meet your needs, you may be able to secure private flood insurance.
Rising risks and risk factor 2.0
If you’ve owned your property for a long time, your flood risks may have changed over the years.
According to Risk Factor, rising sea levels, new weather patterns and stronger storms lead to increased flood risks. Other factors, such as increased development in coastal areas and structural failures of levees and dams, can also contribute to higher risks.
New flood models and maps can account for these changing risks. FEMA recently updated the NFIP with Risk Rating 2.0 – a new methodology designed to more accurately assess flood risks. Since 1 April 2022, all policies have been subject to the new classification system.
FEMA says there are 171,100 NFIP policies in force in New York. For 32% of these policies – just over 54,000 – the new Risk Rating 2.0 pricing model caused an immediate reduction in premium costs. In contrast, 54% of policyholders experienced a premium increase of up to $120 per year, 7% of policyholders experienced a premium increase of between $120 and $240 per year, and 7% of policyholders experienced an increase of more than $240 per year.
Flood risks in New York
As a coastal state, New York faces flooding risks from storm surges as well as from hurricanes and other types of storms.
According to Risk Factor, New York State has a moderate flood risk. But the risk of flooding in New York is much higher in some regions. Westchester, for example, has a high flood risk, according to Risk Factor.
When a property is flooded, the damage tends to be significant. Over the past 10 years, FEMA says the average NFIP payout in New York has been $55,300.
Preparing for a flood
Flooding can happen quickly. Make sure you are ready.
- Know your flood risk. FEMA’s flood maps can help you understand your flood risks and make informed decisions. You should also learn about any evacuation zones in your area. For example, New York City residents should know their NYC hurricane evacuation zone.
- Plan for an emergency. If your area becomes dangerous in a flood, you may need to evacuate. Prepare emergency supplies, an evacuation route, and a communication plan. Ready New York provides guidance on how to create an emergency plan.
- Reduce your property’s risk. FEMA has tips on inexpensive home improvement projects that can reduce your property’s flood risk, such as installing flood valves or modifying your landscape to improve runoff.
- Monitor the weather. If a storm is approaching and flooding is likely, you need to be ready to protect your property and protect yourself. You can sign up for New York Alert to receive emergency notifications.
- Buy flood insurance. NFIP policies typically have a 30-day waiting period. This means that you will not be able to submit a claim immediately after purchasing insurance. If you wait until the weather report predicts flooding, it’s too late to buy coverage.
- Don’t forget your vehicles. Floodwaters can total a car. Flood insurance for your home does not cover your vehicles, but comprehensive coverage auto insurance covers flood damage.
Do you need help securing flood insurance for your home or other property? Contact BNC for assistance.