Floods are a common natural disaster in Texas, and they can cause significant damage to homes and property. In Texas, the requirement and cost of flood insurance can depend on your property’s flood zone. Here, we will delve into flood insurance in Houston, the flood zones in Texas, the requirements for flood insurance, associated costs, the process of filing a claim, and what you can expect in terms of compensation. If you have questions, please contact us today.
What Is a Flood Zone?
FEMA classifies areas in Texas into flood zones based on their risk of flooding.
Special Flood Hazard Area
Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are high-risk flood zones with a 1-percent or greater annual chance of flooding per year, also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. These zones include:
- A, AO. These properties are located near rivers, streams, lakes, and other waterways and have a 1% or greater chance of flooding annually and a 26% chance of flooding over a 30-year mortgage.
- AE. Base floodplain areas with a 1% annual chance of flood.
- AH. A shallow flood zone with a 1% chance of shallow flooding (one to three feet) per year and a 26% chance of flooding over a 30-year mortgage.
- AR. Areas with temporarily increased flood risk due to the building or restoration of a flood control system.
- V (including VE, V1-30). Beachfront properties. They have a 1% or greater chance of flooding, with additional hazards from storm waves, and a 26% chance of flooding over a 30-year mortgage.
The risk of flooding varies across the state, with coastal regions and low-lying areas being particularly vulnerable.
Moderate to Low-Risk Zones
- B. Moderate flood hazards with a 0.2% and 1% annual flood chance.
- C, X. Minimal risk areas with a 0.2% or less annual risk of flood.
- D. Areas that have yet to be assessed and the chance of flood is unknown.
Although these flood zones are considered moderate to low-risk, they can still be susceptible to floods.
Which Flood Zones Require Insurance?
While Texas doesn’t require homeowners to have flood insurance, federally-backed mortgage lenders may require you to purchase it if your house is in a FEMA-designated SFHA. As noted above, in Texas, these zones include A, AO, AE, AH, AR, and V. However, even if you’re not in a high-risk zone, it’s advisable to consider flood insurance, as you are still at risk for flood damage. According to FEMA, more than 20% of all flood claim payouts occurred outside of high-risk flood zones.
How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?
The cost of flood insurance in Houston varies based on factors such as the property’s location, the level of risk, the coverage amount, and the type of policy you choose. Generally, flood insurance rates in Texas vary based on which flood zone you live in. If your property is in an SFHA, your policy will be more expensive than one in a moderate or low-risk flood zone. If your property is located in a high-risk zone, the cost will vary based on the elevation of your property. It’s best to contact an insurance agent for specific cost estimates.
How to File a Flood Insurance Claim
When flood damage occurs, promptly initiating the claims process is crucial. You can file a flood insurance claim by following the below steps:
- Start your claim. Notify your insurance provider as soon as possible and provide them with the necessary information. The adjuster should respond within a few days to schedule a property inspection.
- Document the damage. Take photos and videos of the flood-damaged areas and items, including floodwater lines, on the outside and inside of the building.
- Fill out the Proof of Loss Form. Within 60 days of the flood, submit a Proof of Loss form to detail your losses and the cost of repairs.
- Begin cleanup. After documenting your damage with photos and video, throw out any damaged contents that pose a health threat. Keep samples of flood-damaged items, such as carpet samples, to show the adjuster.
- Meet with your adjuster. Your insurer will send an adjuster to assess the damage and work with you to submit an estimate for your loss.
- Receive compensation. Once your claim is approved, you will receive compensation to cover eligible losses.
To ensure the flood insurance claim process goes smoothly, and you receive the compensation you are entitled to, you should consult an experienced attorney.
What Can I Expect to Be Paid for a Flood Insurance Claim?
Your flood insurance claim payout depends on several factors, including the extent of damage, coverage limits, and deductible. Flood insurance from the government-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has maximum coverage limits of $250,000 for your house’s structure and $100,000 for its contents. Private policies can offer higher coverage limits and coverage for additional living expenses like hotel stays and restaurant meals if you can’t live in your home.
Contact a Flood Insurance Claim Lawyer Today
Flood insurance is a critical safeguard for homeowners and property owners in Texas, given the state’s vulnerability to flooding. Armstrong Lee & Baker is a Houston-based firm that works to protect our clients’ rights. Our experienced flood damage lawyers can assist you in understanding flood zones, requirements, costs, and the claims process, to ensure your flood insurer fairly compensates you in the event of a flood. Contact us today for a consultation.