Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Homeowners Insurance Actions in Florida

Today State Farm Insurance Company announced rate increase requests averaging over 70% in the state of Florida, with requests of over 200% in some areas! The bulk of this increase is likely to be approved according to National Underwriter, an industry magazine. Allstate has taken a different approach, arranging with several smaller insurance companies to take 200,000 of their customers off their hands for homeowners insurance.

As I have indicated in previous columns, there is no one solution to this issue and so creativity and innovation is called for.

Monday, May 15, 2006

There is a lot of concern today because of all the rain that is expected in the New England area, according to this morning’s NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/). The market for Long Island homeowners insurance was already in panic mode because of the storms that are being predicted.

Last fall we had all those rains which caused hydrostatic pressure to build up and filled thousands of Long Island basements with water, and much of that was not covered by EITHER flood insurance or homeowners insurance.The question most folks have is ‘why?’ Why was that sort of water damage not covered? Isn’t that a flood, when your basement has 24 inches of water in it?

The answer, at least for the purposes of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is that it’s not. For one thing, most of that water was ground water that seeped in through the foundation. For another, a lot of it happened a good distance from ‘the water’ as most people think of it, and so even in cases where it might have been covered, they were not carrying flood insurance. That may change soon as FEMA examines ways to increase participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

So what IS a flood? Here is a basic definition from FEMA via their official flood insurance info site, http://www.floodsmart.gov - "A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder's property) from:

• Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or

• Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or Mudflow; or

• Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above."

So, in plain English, a flood is an excess of water (or mud) on land that's normally dry.Floods often happen when bodies of water overflow or tides rise due to heavy rainfall or thawing snow.But you don't have to live near water to be at risk of flooding. A flash flood, which can strike anywhere without warning, occurs when a large volume of rain falls within a short time.More and more buildings, roads and parking lots are being built where forests and meadows used to be, which decreases the land's natural ability to absorb water. Coupled with changing weather patterns, this construction has made recent floods more severe and increased everyone's chance of being flooded.

For more info on flood insurance in New York visit the FEMA sight above or our site at http://www.floodinsuranceny.com/.