HOUSTON - Hurricane Season begins Monday and it's important to have flood insurance if your home is in a flood zone.
If your flood insurance recently expired, the grace period to renew it was extended from 30 to 120 days during the pandemic. But it usually takes 30 days to take effect. You'll want to get it as soon as possible because Houston has a history of catastrophic floods.
Harvey. Imelda. The Tax Day Flood. The Memorial Day Flood. The damage was devastating.
Homeowners and renters insurance do not cover floods, you need to buy it separately.
"Experts suggest one inch of flooding in your home can cost about $25,000," explaind Camille Garcia with the Insurance Council of Texas.
The average cost for flood insurance for a Houston home through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program is about $600 a year. But there are ways to cut that cost.
"You may want to consider increasing your deductibe and most deductibels often start at about 1000 dollars and go up from there," said Garcia.
Shop around. You may find a better price through private insurance, especially if you live in a high risk zone but your home has never flooded. Just be aware that some mortgage lenders only accept insurance through the NFIP and returning to it later may mean rate increases.
Another cost saver: make changes at your home to reduce your flood damage risk, such as raising your air conditioners or plumbing above the base flood elevation.
FEMA provides this guide to home mitigation projects.
"Is your A/C unit and your heat unit for example, are they up off the ground or are they ground level or below?" asks Garcia.
Check for flood openings that will let water out and, if possible, consider elevating your home. A home that is three feet above the base flood elevation can save you 60%. Maybe it already is.
"You'll want to find out if your home has an elevation certificate.
If your property meets elevation requirements it could definitely save you money," Garcia told us.
FEMA also uses a Community Rating System and offers discounts to homes in communities that are better prepared for flooding.
"If your community gets a CRS rating of 1, for example, you could see a 40-45% discount on your policy," said Garcia.
FEMA offers grants to help you pay for projects to mitigate your flood risk.