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Don'tt Let Yourself be Ambushed by Flooding that Your Homeowner's Policy Doesn't Cover

Between Sunday and Monday, December 17th and 18th, communities in downstate Delaware were deluged with more than 4 inches of rain along with loud, gusting winds. It was the kind of storm that’s been happening more frequently, a stationary and steady downpour that lasts for hours.

As a result we have tremendous flooding in low-lying areas, with long stretches of roads either closed or significantly limited in the amount of traffic they’ll accommodate. On days like this it’s fairly easy for us to convince homebuyers to get the facts about flood insurance because these familiar places are literally underwater.

Unfortunately it’s more difficult to explain that flooding doesn’t happen just along the beach or near marshlands. You can live miles inland in a community of single family homes that appears to be completely safe – and get quite a surprise when your basement or yard is suddenly filled with water. 

It can happen when someone near you makes changes to a home that affect the flow of groundwater – something that can happen with the installation of a driveway, or when your neighbor changes the grade of a yard to deal with landscaping. It can also happen when homeowners have basements where they shouldn’t, chiefly because there wasn’t enough diligence when the homes were planned, or neighborhoods close to wetlands that shouldn’t be developed. 

With all of this in mind I’m doing my annual post about the importance of flood insurance. I covered a lot of the details several months ago with this post about Delaware-specific issues I hope you’re give it a quick read so you understand the following key points:

  • Your regular homeowners insurance policy probably does NOT cover flooding. In almost every case flood insurance is a supplement to your policy, even if you’re in a high-risk area. Make sure you understand how to get a policy now so you’re prepared.
  • You don’t have to live near the water to get socked in with an expensive and damaging flooding. It can happen anywhere, although Delaware’s preponderance of marshlands alongside new developments pose special risks due to changes in the amount of water absorbed by the ground once roads and driveways are built. 
  • Your flood risk can change significantly over time. Say you bought your home in a new community in 2010, and understood that you were at low-risk of flooding at that point. Fourteen years later your risk can be very different based largely on the type of development that’s taken place around you. 
  • Flood insurance is almost always very inexpensive. This fact bears lots of repeating. The blog post shows, for example, how the owner of a home in a “moderate risk” area with a full basement pays only $700 a year for $350,000 worth of flood insurance. This is a typical situation, and you might actually pay a lot less. It’s also a very good bargain, since 1 inch of water in your home can cost at least $25,000 in damages. For a fuller picture, check out this online tool from FEMA to learn what you’ll pay for various levels of flooding damage
  • There’s lots of crucial and easy-to-understand information at This consumer-friendly Web site was created by FEMA through its flood insurance program. Visit the site for Flood Maps that will give you a good sense of your flood risk based on your address, advice on How to Reduce Your Flood Risk, and details on What Your Flood Policy Covers.