The Dangerous Truth About Flooding – and Your Home

Water may seem unobtrusive. But even a single inch of water can be devastating for homeowners. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States, costing Americans millions of dollars collectively every year in flood damage.

Floods have the power to damage not only your home and sense of security but also your financial future. To mitigate your risks from flooding, it’s important to protect your home with a comprehensive flood insurance policy. But what goes into that? What are your flood options? And why is it necessary if I live in a landlocked city?

Let’s dive in.

Why do I need flood insurance?

Everyone is suspensible to devasting flood damage – no matter where you live. It’s estimated that twenty percent of flood claims are filed by people living in moderate- or low-risk areas.

Just ask Susan Smith.

When floodwater from the storm surge after Hurricane Katrina started pouring through the walls of Susan’s Florida home, she knew she had to get out fast. By the time she and her son ran upstairs to grab the family cat, rising water trapped them on the second floor of their home.

With the help of a neighbor, they manage to escape. But when the water receded and Susan finally returned to her property, she discovered most of the contents and drywall were unsalvageable due to the severe flood damage. She thought her homeowner’s insurance policy would cover the losses, but found out most standard homeowners policies do not cover flood damage.

“The water got so high, everything was just destroyed,” Susan told the National Flood Insurance Program. “I didn’t have flood insurance because I wasn’t in a flood plain, so we were told we didn’t need it.”

As Susan found out the hard way, flood losses from disasters like these are specifically excluded from homeowners and personal umbrella insurance policies. While some regions like coastal areas are certainly more flood-prone than others, the unpredictability of climate change exposes all property to some risk.

And storm surge isn’t the only culprit. Flood damage is also caused by torrential rainfall, mudflows and even rapid snowmelt in spring that cause rivers to run high and surge into lower-lying areas. Even small creeks, dry streambeds, dried-up canals or low-lying ground that appears harmless in dry weather can flood.

Are you prepared for a flood?

Knowing what to do during a flood is important – because you may only have minutes to react.

If flooding is potentially expected in your area, start by moving your furniture and valuables to higher floors – or elevated areas within your home. In case of evacuation, fill your car tank up with gas.

If a flood warning is issued for your area, take the following precautions:

  • Gather emergency supplies and fill bathtubs with clean water.
  • Tune your radio to weather updates, disaster directions and signals.
  • If you must evacuate, take only essential items with you.
  • Move to higher ground, staying away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.

If your home is affected by flood damage, follow the following guidelines immediately:

  • Throw away food that is not safe to eat and use only bottled water until local authorities have determined that tap water is safe to cook with and drink.
  • Stay away from damaged buildings and structures and do not touch fallen power lines.
  • Don’t turn on your power until a qualified electrician has determined that it is safe.
  • Wear protective clothing when handling hazardous materials or cleaning up mold.

The thought of a flood permanently damaging your home can be scary. Luckily, there’s a way to protect you and your family’s livelihood: flood insurance.

Finding the right protection

Flood insurance provides the protection you need to cover losses after flooding ravages your property. The cost of premiums varies based on the amount of coverage you need, what your coverage entails and your property’s flood risk.

Many people believe that federal assistance from the US government (FEMA) will suffice if they suffer flood damage. This is a dangerous gamble. Federal assistance is only available if the US president formally declares a disaster – and if that doesn’t happen, you’ll have to shoulder the massive costs alone. If you doobtain federal assistance, you’re also often required to repay it with interest – along with any mortgage loans that you still owe on the damaged property.

Only a personal flood insurance policy can provide secure protection that safeguards your most valuable asset – while providing invaluable peace of mind. And unlike federal aid, flood insurance claims never have to be repaid.

What does flood insurance cover?

For your losses to be covered under a flood insurance policy, the following definition of a flood applies: a general and temporary condition of inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from an overflow of inland or tidal waters.

You might be surprised to learn that not all water losses are considered flood damage. For instance, water damage from mold – that is not due to flood damage – is not covered by flood insurance, as this could have been avoided through homeowner proactivity.

It’s important to note that new flood insurance policies usually have a 30-day waiting period. You will not be insured if you buy a policy a few days before a flood. However, if your lender requires flood insurance to make, increase, extend or renew your loan, there is no waiting period.

Getting started with a flood insurance policy

As long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you’re eligible to purchase personal flood insurance. Acentria can assist you in determining if your community participates in the NFIP.

You don’t have to face the threat of floods alone: contact an Acentria agent today to learn more about affordable flood insurance coverage options.

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Alan Florez

Executive Vice President, National Sales

Alan leads new business growth strategies and expansion, guides the development of resources and training for Sales Producers and their partnerships with Carriers. With over 15 years of industry experience, Alan also leads the Acentria Public Risk divisions working with municipalities and government entities for their coverage needs. He was appointed to the Halifax Health Board of Commissioners December 2020 and also serves as an Executive Committee member for our parent company, Foundation Risk Partners.

Previously, Alan served as Governor Jeb Bush’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and Special Assistant. He is a former member of the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees and currently volunteers his time with the Florida Council of 100, Futures Foundation of Volusia County Schools and the Community Foundation of Flagler and Volusia. Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.

Jackie Shaw

Senior Vice President
Commercial Lines

Mitch Weinstein

Partner

As Partner, Mitch oversees the operations of Acentria’s offices located throughout Florida and southeast region. He focuses on strategic business development and is committed to providing clients with exceptional customer service while ensuring the highest levels of standards.

Mary Lawless

President & Chief Operating Officer

As President and Chief Operating Officer, Mary brings over three decades of industry expertise to Acentria Insurance. With a strong focus on Mergers & Acquisitions, Mary is passionate about partnering with new agencies and leaders to continue the overall upward growth of Acentria. She works in conjunction with the CEO to lead and deliver specialized sales products, services and industry leading capabilities while implementing business and sales strategies to the Acentria sales team and carrier partners. Mary has direct oversight of all operational leaders throughout the entire organizational footprint and is responsible for operational financials and budgets.

She empowers her team members and because of it, is well respected by her peers and those she leads. Since her time with Acentria, Mary’s leadership has contributed to the agency’s exponential growth from 15 to well over 50 locations, increasing employment to over 700 team members, across the southeastern United States. Due to her leadership and contributions to the insurance industry, she has been nationally recognized as one of Insurance Business America magazine’s Elite Women and serves as a valuable member on the Executive Committee for Foundation Risk Partners, Acentria’s parent company. Prior to joining Acentria Insurance, Mary led operations for another national broker. Throughout her tenure, she has held a variety of management positions in Personal Lines, Select Business and Employee Benefits. Mary specializes in agency operations, partnerships and acquisitions and is truly passionate about developing team members to become great leaders.

When not shaping the future industry leaders at Acentria Insurance, Mary enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, Pat and their family and friends.

Kendall McEachern

Co-Founder

Kendall was a fundamental part of Acentria Insurance. As a co-founder, he brought more than 30 years of industry expertise to Acentria, helping transform the organization into a leading insurance provider. Beloved by team members, carrier partners and clients, he oversaw more than 400,000 insured multi-family units with property values greater than $22 billion, and over four million square feet of commercial office space and real estate buildings. Kendall has received numerous industry awards to include being recognized as a National Top Producer and Agent of the Year by both Insurance Business America and Insurance Journal. Away from the office, he served as chairman for the American Heart Association, actively participated in his church and golfing, watching sports and spending time with his family. Kendall passed away in January of 2021, leaving a lasting legacy on Acentria’s culture, success, industry-wide reputation – and on all of us fortunate to have worked alongside him.

Liz Bevelacqua

Senior Vice President
Personal Lines Sales

Doreen Castro

Senior Vice President
Personal Lines Operations

Jessica Davis

Senior Vice President
Marketing & Branding

Jason Cruse

Executive Vice President
Central Florida Sales

Anne Kraus

Vice President
Panhandle of Florida Region

Nathan Marks

Executive Vice President
Northwest Florida and Tallahassee

Brian Stanton

Executive Vice President
West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Florida Keys

Chris Tolland

Executive Vice President
Northeast Florida Sales

Luke Wolkers

Executive Vice President
Benefits

Eric Austin

Operations Lead
Port St. Lucie & West Palm Beach

Alex Doberstein

Vice President
Benefits Resource Leader

Teresa Fillmon

Vice President
Small Business Unit

Kevin Mason

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

As Chief Executive Office of Acentria Insurance, Kevin focuses on developing insurance solutions that strengthen Acentria’s presence in the market and its commitment to client-relationships and exceptional service. With over 35 years of industry experience, he specializes in the overall growth of Acentria as is passionate about bringing new talent to the organization both organically and through mergers and acquisitions. Through his leadership and the support of the Executive Leadership team, Acentria Insurance instills a positive corporate culture which has led the agency in being recognized as a leader within our industry as a Top 100 Workplace, Employer of Choice, Best Agency to Work For and several other national and regional accolades.

Before co-founding Acentria Insurance, Kevin served as Branch Manager for another national broker. Kevin holds the prestigious title as an Agent of the Year and five-time National Top Producer. He is also a key member of the Foundation Risk Partners Executive Committee, which is the parent company of Acentria Insurance, while also serving as the National Director for Carrier Relations. In addition, Kevin oversees the Sales Leadership Council, which encompasses sales leaders across the entire FRP footprint in an effort to develop and refine shared resources while offering producer training and development programs.

Kevin received a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the University of West Florida. He is very active in his community and served over a decade on the Board of Directors of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation and remains as a trustee, which funds over 14 children’s charities along the Florida Panhandle. He is also a member of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, Community Association Institute and Florida Association of Insurance Agents. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys golfing, tennis, boating and spending time with his wife Laura, and their children.