From hurricanes to tropical storms to strong spring rains and the cresting and flash floods of the Mississippi and Little Missouri rivers, Arkansas is no stranger to rising waters. Unfortunately, fewer than 2 percent of Arkansas residents carry flood protection and do not realize their homeowners insurance policy will not cover flood damage until it is too late.
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Before you search for flood insurance quotes, however, there are several factors to consider.
Arkansas Flood Facts
According to the National Flood Insurance Program:
- Floods are the No. 1 disaster in the nation and state, claiming more lives and destroying more property than all tornadoes, thunderstorms and hurricanes combined.
- The average flood insurance claim in is $40,000.
- Statistics released by the National Weather Service show that 18 Arkansans died in floods in 2011 – the largest number in any state in the country.
- In March 2009, heavy rains in AR caused rivers to crest at their highest levels in 90 years, causing severe floods.
- In June 2010, AR experienced a severe storm which caused the Little Missouri River to rise almost eight feet per hour at times. The resulting flash flood killed 20 campers in Albert Pike Recreation Park and damaged a number of homes and businesses along the Little Missouri and Caddo rivers.
What Is the NFIP?
Since standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding, it's important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions.
Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968 to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves because private insurance did not offer this protection. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.
Fortunately, most Arkansas cities and counties participate in the NFIP and flood insurance is available.
Why Is Flood Insurance Important?
Without a policy from the NFIP, any flood damage sustained by your home or business most likely will not be covered under your existing insurance policies. Most homeowners insurance does not cover floods and there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective. If you already have a flood policy, remember that it needs to be renewed each year. Floods are common in Arkansas and the only way to quickly recover from rising waters is to secure a flood insurance policy.
In some cases, you may be required to carry flood insurance. If you secured your home or business loan through a federally backed program, such as the VA or FHA, and you live in an NFIP-identified flood zone, your lender may require you to carry flood insurance. Always check with your mortgage company or financial institution to find out if you are required to obtain flood insurance.
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
Flood insurance protects two types of insurable property: building and contents.
Building coverage includes:
- The insured building and its foundation
- The electrical and plumbing system
- Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces and water heaters
- Refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
- Permanently installed carpeting over unfinished flooring
Contents coverage includes:
- Clothing, furniture and electronic equipment
- Portable and window air conditioners
- Portable microwaves and dishwashers
- Carpeting that is not already included in property coverage
- Clothing washers and dryers
How Will I Be Reimbursed After a Flood?
The type of reimbursement you receive from your insurance provider depends on the kinds of coverage options you choose when building your flood insurance policy.
The two most common reimbursement methods for flood claims are:
- Replacement Cost Value: RCV is the cost to replace damaged property. It is reimbursable to owners of single-family, primary residences insured to within 80 percent of the building's replacement cost.
- Actual Cash Value: All other buildings and personal property (i.e. contents) are valued at ACV. The ACV takes depreciation into account. Personal property is always valued using the ACV. For example, if your 10-year-old stove is destroyed in a flood, you will be reimbursed the cost it takes to replace a used, 10-year-old stove, not a brand new one.
What Will My Flood Insurance Quote Look Like?
Insurance companies take several factors into consideration when they determine your flood insurance premium quote, including:
- The amount and type of coverage being purchased
- Your location and flood zone
- The design and age of your structure.
- For homes in high-risk areas (e.g., Special Flood Hazard Areas or AE, VE Zones) built after the first Flood Insurance Rate Maps were drawn for that community, the elevation of the building in relation to the base flood elevation is also required.
Flood insurance quotes can be as low as $130 per year for a renewable one-year policy for newer homes in low-risk areas.
The good news about flood insurance quotes and costs is that because of the partnership between the NFIP and private insurers, rates and quotes should not vary from insurance company to insurance company. The federal goverment regulates these quotes and keeps prices in check.
Where Can I Find Flood Insurance?
The last thing you want to worry about as you lead your family to safety during a flood is whether or not you can afford to recover your losses. A comprehensive flood insurance policy can give you the peace of mind to focus on what matters most in the moment.
Knowledgeable, independent insurance agents on the Trusted Choice® network are always available to answer your questions, suggest coverage options, and even assist you in filing a claim. These agents have years of experience working with the NFIP and private Arkansas insurance companies, allowing them to give you qualified and straightforward assistance. Contact a Trusted Choice agent near you to find out how you can obtain a flood insurance policy that meets your needs and budget.