Many people aren’t aware that flood damage is not covered by traditional homeowners insurance. It’s estimated that only 12% of Americans own a flood insurance plan in addition to their normal homeowners insurance.1
Unfortunately, with the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, that means millions of Florida residents are left wondering what options they have when it comes to repairing damages to their home and restoring a semblance of normalcy back to their lives.
It’s estimated that even one inch of water can cause roughly $20,000 in damages.2 That’s not even accounting for damage from high winds and debris. For many families and individuals, it simply isn’t feasible to pay repair costs out of pocket. What’s more, a typical flood insurance policy doesn’t come cheap, costing roughly $660 per year on average.
So, if your home was severely damaged during Hurricane Irma, what can you do? The good news is there are options for those who do not have flood insurance or the necessary resources to pay out of pocket for flood damage.
It’s an unfortunate fact that even those who do have flood insurance are still dealing with issues relating to hurricane relief. For instance, insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program takes 30 days to take effect. People who bought their insurance just before Hurricane Irma were still left without financial relief. In addition, those who live in flood-prone areas will typically pay higher premiums, making coverage unattainable in some cases.
You may have heard about available assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The federal program can be an excellent resource for recouping lost finances during hardship if assistance is approved after an application is completed.
While FEMA grants can be extremely helpful for many, they do have their drawbacks. For instance, FEMA grants are primarily intended to help families with post-disaster costs, such as renting a place to live, replacing belongings, medical costs and, in some unfortunate cases, funeral costs. Because the grants provide only up to $33,300 for relief, they’re often not sufficient to cover housing repair and rebuilding costs.
Another common option available to hurricane victims is taking out a low-cost loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). These low-cost loans are specifically for those without flood insurance. If you qualify, you may be eligible for up to $200,000 to help repair and rebuild your home, replace destroyed belongings or refinance your mortgage. Some restrictions apply, such as:
People who have just experienced a disaster often are dealing with very limited resources as it is, so taking out a 30-year loan with interest can be a daunting option. Not to mention, $200,000 still may not be enough to completely rebuild or make necessary repairs, which often include replacing flooring and appliances, or treating mold issues and other problems caused by flooding.
If you or your family are facing the difficult task of recovering and rebuilding after a hurricane, rest assured there are options available to you to help you get back on your feet. Obtaining federal grants, small business loans or getting everything you’re owed from your insurance company isn’t always easy. You may want to consider seeking the advice of a local Florida attorney regarding compensation for your property damage and potential injuries.