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Sather Financial Group

120 E Constitution St
Victoria, TX 77901

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Are You Ready For A Flood?


This past week marked the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina—the costliest natural disaster in US history. If we had forgotten how cruel Mother Nature can be, look east to our neighbors in Baton Rouge or think back to the heavy rains Texas endured in May.


Only in Texas could we go from being under a burn-ban one day to a flash flood watch the next day.


When we discuss things like this with clients, we recommend they get flood insurance. This is frequently met with resistance as they say, “But I don’t live in a flood zone.”


According to the National Flood Insurance Program, more than one-third of the Federal disaster assistance goes to people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas.


In Louisiana, only 42% of homes in high-risk areas had flood insurance while a mere 12.5% in low and moderate-risk zones had coverage. Unfortunately, the flooding in Louisiana brought five feet of water into neighborhoods outside the defined flood zones.


More than 40,000 homes in Louisiana have been damaged or destroyed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency receiving more than 95,000 calls for help.


However, according to www.FloodSmart.gov, over the past 5 years all 50 states have experienced flooding. As such, you are smart to prepare now.


In thinking through this, recognize that a standard homeowner’s policy offers coverage from wind damage, but not flood damage.


Don’t procrastinate. It usually takes 30 days to bind coverage—assuming there is not a named storm barreling your way. If there is, you will not be able to bind coverage until a named threat passes.


The Gulf of Mexico has not had a hurricane enter or develop in its waters since September 2013. That is the longest streak without a hurricane in 130 years. Although that has been nice, we are probably due. Remember that hurricane season runs through November, so there is plenty of immediate exposure.

It seems that on a frequently recurring basis we experience the “100-Year Storm.” Either our models are wrong or things are happening which have increased previous risks. Although we know that flooding can happen as a result of hurricanes, it can also happen as a result of winter storms and snowmelt, too. 

Furthermore, new land and road development increases risks as natural runoff paths are altered or compromised.


Get enough coverage. The standard flood policy for a single family home only provides $250,000 of coverage on the structure and $100,000 on the contents. With home sizes consistently increasing, along with the cost per square foot, wise consumers will determine if they need a surplus insurance policy to cover any value above base policy limits.


Make sure you have renter’s coverage. Approximately 60% of the people who rent an apartment or house don’t have renter’s insurance. Although your landlord is responsible for the physical premises, they do not cover your possessions. This coverage is usually quite affordable and covers a wide variety of perils.


Take pictures or video and store them safely. The time to document what you have is when you can calmly and logically assess your assets and get appraisals. Take pictures and store them in a safe deposit box or upload them to the cloud. You don’t want to try to remember what you had after five feet of water has stagnated in your residence for several days.


Get your “bug-out” bag ready. If you have a flood, the odds increase significantly that you will not be able to occupy your residence for quite some time. Make a list of what you would need if you were going on a ten day trip out of the country. A short list should include medicines, food, important documents, keys, codes, cash, cell-phone and phone numbers. Not only do you need to plan for the humans in your life, but the furry family members, too.


There are few things in your life that are less sexy than flood insurance or planning. However, if and when you need it, a small amount of planning now will offer tremendous resources for you and your family when you need it most.


Dave Sather is a Certified Financial Planner™ and owner of Sather Financial Group. His column, Money Matters, publishes every other week.