Hurricane Florence exposes gap in flood insurance

What homeowners need to know about insurance

Neighborhoods are flooded after the storm surge from Hurricane Florence flooded the Neuse River Sept. 14, 2018, in New Bern, North Carolina.
Neighborhoods are flooded after the storm surge from Hurricane Florence flooded the Neuse River Sept. 14, 2018, in New Bern, North Carolina. (2018 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The widespread flood damage Hurricane Florence left in its wake is exposing a gap in flood insurance.

The devastating rain, flash flooding and high winds from Florence left behind an estimated three to five billion dollars in damage across eastern North Carolina, according to a property data company.

Only 35% of properties in flood hazard areas were insured in North Carolina, The Associated Press reported. Those homes not covered by the National Flood Insurance Program will need to get disaster assistance from FEMA or the Small Business Administration.

This is why experts in Florida recommend getting flood insurance before it's too late.
You've gone through it yourself, or you have at least seen what happened when your neighbors did. Hurricanes are a reality for us, and the state says your best defense is to be prepared.  When it comes to your insurance, you can't wait until the storm is on the way.

Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect -- so if you wait, it could be too late.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis say now is the time to review your current insurance policy, and get flood insurance if you don't already have it.

A basic homeowners’ insurance policy does not provide coverage for flooding and this coverage must be purchased separately through a private insurance company or the federally-administered National Flood Insurance Program. 

WATCH: What's covered, what's not after a hurricane

“The images of the flood damages and losses I saw when traveling the state following Hurricane Irma will forever be ingrained in my memory," said CFO Patronis.


"Last year, reports indicated a vast majority of Florida’s residences were inadequately insured. Floridians must review their insurance policies, understand their coverages, and make the necessary adjustments to ensure they are adequately covered," added Commissioner Altmaier.

Flood insurance coverage can often be purchased directly from your existing insurance agent or company. For a list of private market flood insurance writers in Florida, here is a direct link on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website.

According to Commissioner Altmaier's office, there are more insurers eligible to write private flood insurance in Florida -- a 30-percent increase from last summer.  As of April 2018, private carriers have written more than 30,000 personal primary flood insurance policies in the state, which is a 50-percent increase.

Altmaier says this is good news for you because coverage is usually offered at prices similar to or lower than those of the NFIP, providing you a choice and an alternative to the federal program.  

Don't forget, if you have questions or issues with insurance, Patronis' office has an Insurance Consumer Helpline. As we've told you, since last July, this helpline has recovered nearly $38 million for Floridians, with $10.7 million stemming directly from inquiries related to Hurricane Irma. Patronis has told News4Jax these are funds the consumer would not have recovered from their insurance companies had they not reached out to the helpline for assistance.

You can reach Patronis' Insurance Consumer Helpline by calling 1-877-My-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236). You can also find additional hurricane season resources on OIR's website.

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