The answer is “YES”. Every property in Hawai'i has a flood zone designation. It may not be in a high-risk flood zone (A or V zones) that would require mandatory flood insurance purchase as a condition of a federally regulated loan, but it doesn’t mean that flooding is not possible. In fact, 20% flood insurance claims come from property owners who are actually mapped in a low-to-moderate risk zone (B, C, and X zones). This was particularly evident from the flooding Hawai'i experienced during Tropical Storm Darby in late July and the more recent floods after the double hurricane threat of Hurricane Olivia and Lane, as they passed our islands. The same can be said about Hurricanes Madeline and Lester in 2016. As of the end of September, the NFIP received over 50 flood insurance claims on the island of Oʻahu for flooding in late July. Although the number of claims may have risen since the printing of this newsletter (October 2016), the startling statistic was that more than 50% of those claims were from property not in a designated high risk flood zone (A or V zone).
Back in a September 25th, 2016, a Star Advertiser article chronicled the recovery efforts after devastating floods ripped through Iao Valley on the island of Maui, a property owner was quoted saying that his insurance agent informed him that he was “ not in the U.S. flood zone, so flood insurance is not required, nor is it even available”. Whether this was a misunderstanding or that was the information provided to the property owner, it should be clarified that flood insurance is available to anyone in Hawai'i regardless of the flood zone designation or whether flood insurance is a mandatory condition of the mortgage. In fact a lot of the properties flooded from Tropical Storm Darby and the Iao Valley floods are in an X zone. Flood insurance is available to these property owners. Many properties in an X zone (moderate to low-risk areas), where flood insurance is not required as a condition of a mortgage, will qualify for lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy rates. For a little less than $500 a year, property owners can insure a residential structure for $250,000 in building coverage and $100,000 in contents coverage.
How can I get flood insurance?
To buy a flood insurance policy, call your insurance agent or company, or find an agent serving your area by filling out the Flood Risk Profile on FloodSmart
Will there be a waiting period for my policy to take effect?
Most likely. Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect. There are only a few exceptions:
- If a building has been newly designated in the high-risk flood zone and flood insurance is being purchased within the 13-month period following a map revision.
- If you purchase flood insurance in connection with making, increasing, extending, or renewing your mortgage loan.
- If an additional amount of insurance is selected as an option on the renewal bill.
- If a property is affected by flooding on burned Federal land that is a result of, or is exacerbated by, post-wildfire conditions when the policy is purchased within 60 days of the fire containment date.
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