Do I need flood insurance?

By Laura Thomas - bio | email

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Being prepared for a major storm means making sure you have the right insurance to cover your home, but contrary to popular belief, homeowner's insurance doesn't cover everything.

A separate flood insurance policy may be needed, according to local insurance experts.

The Gantt family built and has lived in their house since 1966 on Long Avenue in Conway. However, 10 years ago, water from Hurricane Floyd flooded their street.

"There was water everywhere, just water everywhere!" described Jenny.

"We would get in the canoes and oar up the Long Avenue to our house," B.G. added.

The Gantts live about 15 miles from the ocean, and according to a national flood insurance website, they live in a low-to-moderate risk zone.

"They said it was a 100-year flood zone," explained Jenny. "That we didn't need it when everyone was buying insurance for their house, so we didn't push the issue."

However, the flood waters did come right up to their front doorstep from an overflowing Waccamaw River.

"We knew we had to get out or we were going to lose everything," Jenny recalled.

The Gantts were lucky, but many others do lose everything. Some think their homeowners insurance covers everything, but it doesn't.

Flood insurance covers damage from water, if that water were to come from the ground up, be it the ocean or something else.

Maurice Stephens of Allstate Insurance says that 25 percent of flood claims are from people who live outside of a high-risk flood zone.

"Certainly don't look back at, if you're two miles or five miles back from the ocean, and determine that you need or you do not need flood insurance," Stephens explained. "It can happen to anyone at any time."

Stephens says that most times, renter's insurance doesn't cover flooding; however, the higher the risk area you live in, the more likely you'll need coverage.

According to a study by the National Climatic Data Center, floods have caused $30 million in property damage in the past 60 years in Horry County. That same study shows that a flood is likely to happen about every two years in the area.

Alicia Bastian of the Horry County Emergency Management Office says it's best to know which flood zone you live in so you can be better prepared.

"Know what the elevation of your land is, not just for flooding purposes," explained Bastian. "If you're in a storm surge zone and we have a Category 3 come along, you'll have a better idea of what to expect and what your house can handle."

However, for the Gantts, they purchased flood insurance shortly after Floyd, and now they've made sure they're ready for anything.

"Now we've got it," Jenny said. "And we've even got earthquake insurance."

Keep in mind that if a storm is coming, there's usually a 30-day waiting period before coverage will begin.

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