SEABROOK, TX – Nestled on the edge of Clear Lake is a waterfront apartment complex that Linda Hart had referred to as home for more than three years. When Hurricane Ike made landfall on September 13, 2008 accompanied by a 12-foot storm surge, its floodwaters damaged the complex extensively and destroyed all the couple’s possessions. Fortunately, the Harts were able to recoup some of their losses because their apartment’s contents were insured through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Fearing the wrath of the coming hurricane, the Harts evacuated farther inland. Upon their return to Seabrook, they found the hurricane had destroyed the apartment complex that was once their home.
“We were living right on the water. For us, it was total loss. We lost everything,” Linda said. “We had over three feet of water in our apartment. The entire first floor suffered massive damage. The whole building was condemned.”
Linda was familiar with flood insurance from years of working in the mortgage industry, but hadn’t seen an immediate need to purchase it because the couple had never suffered a flood loss. The Harts purchased their policy less than a year before Hurricane Ike destroyed their home. The couple had been encouraged to get the policy by Linda’s sister, who works for an insurance company.
“Our furniture was less than a year old. Water just picked it up and moved it down the hall,” Linda said. “The pictures hanging on the wall and items on the counter tops were all that we could salvage. The rest, we just had to walk away from all of it.”
Following the move to another apartment complex, the Harts were able to use the funds provided by the flood insurance claim to began furnishing her new apartment.
“It was the best $159 I ever spent. Within a week, I had $2,500 in my hands, just to get me started,” Linda said. “Within another two to three weeks, I had the balance of the claim. I received 100 percent of the face value of my policy.”
Many misconceptions surround flood insurance. These include the beliefs that policies are available only to homeowners, that coverage is unnecessary for those who have homeowners’ insurance, and that it is unaffordable.
Federally backed policies are widely available in communities that participate in the NFIP. Renters can buy policies for coverage of their personal property in their home. Flood policies supplement homeowners’ insurance for flood losses, which are not covered in most homeowners’ policies. The Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) offers lower-cost protection for homes and apartments in areas of low-to-moderate flood risk. Depending on the location of a structure, the annual premium for contents coverage can be as low as $39 for $8,000 in coverage.
“We know that I could have purchased a premium with higher coverage. However, at the time we were on a strict budget,” Linda said. “We would highly recommend securing residential content coverage. It’s quick, it’s easy but above all, it’s worth it.”