Not High and Dry 100-Year Floods Highlight Need for Insurance Coverage

In April, Massachusetts officials estimated it would take $38 million to repair the damage to infrastructure caused by the deluge, and tens of thousands of residents across the region applied for disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In short, if ever anyone thought thatflood insurance was optional, this spring disabused them of that notion.

Floods Not Predictable

“I would say it’s a good idea for everyone to have them (the policies),” says Matt Brady, director of media relations for National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, who is based in Washington, D.C. “As we just saw… a lot of people who didn’t think they were in flood plains, were. You can’t predict where and when floods are going to happen. This year is a great example: Rhode Island and New England are not areas that you think of when you think of flooding.”

At the time of the torrential rains, which lasted for a three-week period, only about 20 percent of homeowners in the Northeast had flood coverage, said Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute in Associated Press reports. That number may go up, as even homeowners not in officially designated flood zones contemplate buying the insurance.

The reason for the low take-up rate can be laid at the door of cost-cutting, experts say. Buying a house or a condominiumis a “big expense. A lot of people try to find a way to lower the costs as they can,” says Brady. “Flood insurance, unfortunately, tends to be one of the popular ways people cut corners.”

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