Valley home owners have been following the news from Phoenix as residents begin to bail out their homes from flood waters in hard hit storm areas in Texas and Oklahoma, many others are counting their lucky stars.
Colin and Joanne Andrew, who live in the Houston suburb of Cypress, were among those spared the worst as record rainfalls flooded parts of the city over the Memorial Day Holiday weekend.
“I can understand if you hear the news and see the footage, and you know that somebody is in the area, you would expect the worst,” said Joanne. “But because of how big Houston is, not everybody got affected the same way.”
So far, the Andrews have not had to turn to their home flood insurance to help weather the storm. But the devastating stories affecting some of their fellow Houston residents has provided a palpable lesson for having such coverage.
Flood insurance is mandatory if you are located in an area designated as a flood zone by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And while most home buyers feel flood insurance is cost-prohibitive unless they are required to have it, mortgage lenders such as Kim Harland of PrimeLending in Scottsdale, Arizona, believe the cost can buy peace of mind.
“People assume because we live in a desert we shouldn’t have flood insurance but there are many areas that fall in a flood zone,” Harland said. “Just think of our monsoons and the washes that flow with water after a rainstorm.”
Flood insurance can cover personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture and electronic equipment. But it might not cover items such as cars and parts or precious metals and valuable papers such as stock certificates.
Home buyers are not required to be in a FEMA flood zone to get the insurance, according to Harland. But your mortgage lender should inform you of where you stand in terms of acquiring the coverage.
“We pull flood certifications on all properties during the processing of the mortgage application,” Harland said. “If it is determined that the home is located in a flood zone, flood insurance is required.”
For homeowners whose homes are paid off and no longer have a mortgage, Harland also suggests checking FEMA maps to determine if their homes are located in a flood zone.
Should you experience a flood in your area, call your insurance agent immediately and file a claim.
Formerly of Nova Home Loans, Kim Harland was recently named Area Manager for the Southwest Region of PrimeLending, a PlainsCapital company. She can be heard Sundays at 8:00 am on That Real Estate Show with Berkshire Hathaway Realtor and radio host Diane Brennan on KTAR News 92.3 FM.
By Sloane Kingston, Contributing Editor