If you’ve just purchased a home, or if you’ve been a homeowner for years, you probably know all about property insurance or homeowner’s insurance. After all, you’ve invested a lot of money in your home, so you want to make sure it’s protected from damage.
However, what a lot of homeowners unfortunately don’t realize is that flood insurance is a separate necessity.
We’ll repeat to be absolutely clear: Standard property insurance does not cover flood damage.
This is important information for homeowners everywhere, but it’s especially vital for those who own property in Florida—and particularly coastal Florida. Wherever you are in Sarasota-Manatee, your property has a higher-than-average risk of flooding.
Know Your Flood Zones
Local government should provide you with a map that details the elevation and flood risk for the area. For instance, Sarasota County’s website includes a number of flood-specific information resources. (You can also access Sarasota’s interactive Flood Zone Locator here.) This information will directly impact your flood insurance.
And if you haven’t checked in recent years, you should know that these maps were updated in February of 2020.
What Constitutes a Flood?
Flooding can happen a number of ways, and southwest Florida properties are susceptible to most of them.
According to FEMA, a flood occurs when at least two acres of normally dry land, or two or more separate properties, are inundated with water. That water can come from the ocean, or from inland bodies of water (lakes, ponds), waterways (rivers, streams) or even an accumulation of rainfall.
If a property along the shore of a body of water collapses into the water, that can also constitute a flood.
Why Florida Homeowners Should Take Heed
Southwest Florida is basically a “perfect storm” for floods. If you live on a barrier island like Anna Maria or Longboat Key, your property is within a mile of either the Gulf of Mexico or the Intracoastal—and possibly very close to both. Plus, your property is probably very close to sea level.
But even moving several miles inland to Lakewood Ranch or Ellenton, the elevation doesn’t change much. Florida is a pretty flat state all the way across. That means when water starts to flood, there’s not a lot to stop it.
And there are lots of forces that can cause floods. With talk a lot about hurricanes and storm surge—and these are certainly risk factors during hurricane season.
But lots of other things can cause flooding year-round in Florida: heavy rainfall, shifts in runoff due to new development, high tides or clogged storm drains. Even if you’ve lived on your property for several years and never experienced a flood, the risk remains high—especially if several risk factors occur at the same time (prolonged heavy rainfall during high tide, for instance).
And of course, flood damage can be devastating. You don’t want to be on the hook for extensive repairs or even rebuilding. Talk to someone about flood insurance today.