This article is provided as a service of the National Flood Insurance Program's FloodSmart team.
The start of the Atlantic hurricane season is right around
the corner, and your clients may not realize that they are at risk.
Heavy rains, flash floods, and storm surge all increase the
risk of flooding during hurricane season, whether you live on the coast or
hundreds of miles inland. Now is the time to have the flood talk with your
clients to ensure that they are financially covered with flood insurance.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the “Big Four” of
2004, when four hurricanes affected Florida for the first time in recorded
history. Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne are four hurricanes that Florida
residents will not soon forget.
The lessons these storms taught can help make a difference
in the way clients prepare for hurricane season—including the importance of
purchasing flood insurance.
- Hurricane Charley taught us to prepare for the unexpected.
The storm was upgraded from a Category 2 to a Category 4 hurricane just as it
was about to make landfall, where it caused extensive wind and water damage.
- Hurricane Frances demonstrated the power and longevity of a
hurricane, causing destruction along the coast and inland flooding as it dumped
up to 16 inches of rain in parts of North Florida. In addition, Frances produced
101 tornadoes, making it the second-highest number of tornadoes as a result of
a tropical cyclone. Frances was a reminder to everyone that hurricanes do not
affect just coastal areas.
- Hurricane Ivan showed us just how large and intense a
hurricane can be. At its peak, it was the size of Texas, and ranks as the 10th
strongest Atlantic hurricane on record. According to National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, Ivan produced up to 15 feet of storm surge along
the Gulf Coast and resulted in more than $7 million in National Flood Insurance
Program (NFIP) paid claims.
- Hurricane Jeanne closed out the season, teaching us not to
be complacent. The storm followed in the path of Charley and Frances, pummeling
Polk County for the third time in less than two months after a 44-year stretch
without a single hurricane.
The "Big Four" of 2004 caused an estimated $45 billion
in damage, the costliest U.S. Atlantic hurricane season on record at that time.
While 2004 was an exceptional year, it only takes one storm to cause
catastrophic damage to your client’s home.
The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project
recently released a “below-average” prediction for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane
season. There is a 35 percent probability that a major hurricane will strike
the Atlantic coast this season. Meteorologists predict that we could see nine
tropical storms, three of which could intensify into a hurricane with one
becoming a major hurricane. Five years ago, the last predicted “below-average”
hurricane season, saw nine named storms, two of which were major hurricanes.
Storms during that “below-average” season caused more than $77 million in
damage. It is important to remind your clients that it only takes one storm to
cause significant flood damage.
Make sure your clients are covered before storm season
As an insurance agent, it’s important to ensure that your
clients are financially prepared for the next flood. Although your clients
might not think that they’re at risk, floods can happen anytime during the
year—especially during hurricane season. Just a few inches of water can cause
tens of thousands of dollars in damage, and without a flood insurance policy,
your clients will be paying for the damage out of their own pocket. The average
flood claim paid by the NFIP between 2008 and 2012 was more than $42,000. And
with more than 25 percent of claims originating from outside mapped high-risk
areas, it is essential to communicate the financial impact of a flood to all of
your clients, regardless of their designated flood zone.
Remember, there typically is a 30-day waiting period before
flood insurance goes into effect. Make sure your clients are covered now before
the storms begin.
today to find valuable tools and resources such as the Cost
of Flooding tool to help you effectively communicate flood risk when having
that all important flood talk with your clients and prospects.
If you haven’t already registered for the Agent
you’re missing out on free, qualified leads. Prospective clients who visit FloodSmart.gov can enter their
address into the Agent Locator tool and be connected to an agent in their area
from FloodSmart’s Agent Referral Program database. Your name will also appear
on FloodSmart direct mailings and will be used by the NFIP Referral Call Center
to transfer prospective clients directly to you.
Take advantage of these resources and other tips and tools on
Agents.FloodSmart.gov to help
build your business and provide financial protection with a flood insurance
policy for your clients this year.