A Quick Guide to Windstorm and Flood Insurance in Northwest Florida
L. Scott Jackson
Marine Science Agent
Most basic policies for the homeowner or renter do not protect against all damages experienced during a tropical storm or hurricane. In addition to renter and homeowner insurance, consumers should consider the purchase of flood and windstorm policies to receive full protection.
Purchase flood and windstorm insurance before a storm forms to provide full protection of your property. Photo Credits: L. Scott Jackson, Bay County
Windstorm insurance policies are designed for areas prone to impact from coastal storms. The need for a windstorm policy is usually determined by your proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and your mortgage company’s requirements. If you find that windstorm is excluded from your current policy, contact your insurance agent or the company directly for a windstorm quote. In most cases, you can purchase a separate wind policy through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state program, and retain your current policy for the other perils such as fire or theft. Windstorm policies are available to most coastal property owners. To learn more about windstorm insurance, visit your local insurance agent or go to www.citizensfla.com.
Flood - Rising water that floods a home is not covered under a homeowner, renter, or windstorm insurance policy. Areas that seldom or never flood can experience storm surge and deluges of rainfall during a coastal storm. Approximately 20% of the annual flood claims are from properties in moderate to low risk zones. Flood insurance is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and FEMA. The cost of flood insurance is determined by flood zone, property elevation, and amount of coverage. The insurance agent that writes your homeowner or renter's policy should be able to give you a flood quote. Your insurance agent already has much of the information needed and it will be a single call when you have a claim. FEMA provides a resource directory of local insurance agents offering NFIP which can be accessed on the web at www.floodsmart.gov or by calling 1-888-379-9531. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, condo owners, mobile homeowners, and renters.
What to do next - Review your current insurance policies with your insurance agent. If you don’t have an insurance agent, then visit http://fmap.org or call 800-524-9023 for the Florida Market Assistance Plan. You also can review an insurance agent or company’s Florida insurance business credentials by contacting the Florida Department of Financial Services at 877-693-5236 or on-line at www.myfloridacfo.com/Consumers. This service is especially helpful when doing business with someone you don’t know.
Final Thoughts - Generally, a waiting period of 30 days is required for new flood or windstorm insurance. Policies cannot be purchased when there is a named storm in the Gulf. Today is always the best day to investigate your options and purchase appropriate insurance coverage for your property.
For more information on preparing for coastal storms, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.