When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, it devastated the Atlantic coastline. For years, the residents of the Jersey Shore dealt with its aftermath thanks in large part to messy bureaucratic red tape. With the rebuilding efforts came new flood zones and new regulations for elevation requirements. This may have changed flood insurance needs for many Jersey Shore homeowners. While not required by law for homeowners, many lenders require you to obtain flood insurance in order to qualify for a mortgage. What does it cover? How much does it cost? How do you know whether you’re in a flood zone or not? So many questions pop into mind when thinking about flood insurance!
Flood Insurance at the Jersey Shore
What Flood Insurance Does (and Doesn’t) Cover
Typically, flood insurance covers the structural elements of your Jersey Shore home. These include the roof, exterior walls, garage, any non-portable appliances (stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.), HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. It also covers any personal property damaged during a flood (clothing, furniture, books, window A/C unit, electronics, books, etc.). However, there are limitations to flood coverage, at least when you go with the FEMA backed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It won’t cover things like mold, damage to swimming pools, cars, fences, erosion, damage from earth movement (even if the flooding caused it), your finished basement or any contents inside the basement. To cover those areas, you might need to seek out a private insurance company.
How Much Does Flood Insurance Usually Cost?
Insurance prices vary depending on the flood zone you live, your home’s relation to BFE is, the age of your Jersey Shore home, and a few other factors. What is BFE? The Base Flood Elevation refers to where the lowest floor of your home sits in relation to how high waters are expected to rise during a 100-year flood. This includes your basement. Let’s say the 100-year flood in your area is expected to raise water levels to 10 feet ASL and your lowest floor sits 12 feet ASL, you are two feet above BFE. On the other hand, if your lowest floor sits at 8 ASL, you’re two feet below BFE. This could have a dramatic affect on your insurance premiums.
NFIP allows for maximum coverage of $250,000 for structural damage and $100,000 for personal property. Private insurance companies may allow for higher coverage. But it will also cost more. Primary residences cost less to insure than secondary ones. As with most other insurance policies, the lower your deductible, the higher your premium. One important thing to keep in mind about deductibles, though, is to think about how much it costs to repair flood damage. It might be worth the extra expense to go for a lower deductible.
With the current partial government shutdown in place, tax return transcripts aren’t being processed at the present time. However, some flood insurance companies are waiving this requirement at this time so that policies can be both written and renewed. Therefore, the closing on your new Jersey Shore home won’t be held up. So, that’s a bit of good news for anyone in the process of buying a home in a flood zone right now.
How Do You Know if You’re in a Flood Zone?
Luckily, this one is easy to determine. FEMA has set up a website to help homeowners find out if their home is situated in a flood zone. When you visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, all you have to do is enter your address. It will then tell you which type of flood zone your home is located in (A, V, or none) as well as the BFE for the area. This proves helpful when shopping for flood insurance.
Frozen Pipes at the Jersey Shore
Finally, as a quick aside, frozen pipes can burst, causing serious damage inside your Jersey Shore home. But, this can be prevented. Replace the battery in your thermostat to make sure it works properly. You want to maintain a 65F temperature inside at all times, even when you’re not there. Insulate pipes exposed to the elements. Seal up any cracks or holes in the walls, around windows, and along exterior doors. Leave faucets open slightly to allow them to drip. Keep cabinet doors open so heat can easily get to the pipes underneath. A backup power source can be a savior if the power does go out during a particularly bad winter storm. If this is your secondary home and you’re away for the winter, drain your water system before temperatures start to drop (usually, late Fall). That includes blowing out your sprinkler pipes. You may even want to hire a service to keep an eye on the place while you’re away.