Home insurance contracts cover a series of natural disasters such as wind, hail, lightning and forest fires, but they generally do not cover earthquakes or floods. It’s a huge problem in Florida, where thousands of homes have been damaged in Hurricane Ian — many of which were damaged by the floods.
About three quarters of single family homes in coastal Lee County — where Ian made landfall — are not covered by federal flood insurance, CNN reported. Once you move further inland, this percentage increases even more.
About 96% of single-family homes in Seminole County are not covered by flood insurance, while 97% of homes in Orange County and 98% of homes in Polk County are not covered. Each of these counties reported significant flooding during Ian.
“The most concerning factor in the aftermath of the storm and all of the losses is the lack of flood insurance, particularly in the central Florida area,” Mark Friedlander, a spokesperson for CNN, told CNN. the Insurance Information Institute.
Consulting firm Milliman estimated that about 18.5% of homes in counties that were under evacuation orders had federally-issued flood insurance, NPR reported. However, in areas under evacuation orders outside of high-risk areas, only 9.4% of households had a policy.
In Seminole County, located northeast of Orlando, more than 5,200 residential buildings were damaged by Hurricane Ian, mostly due to flooding. About 3,000 buildings were damaged in Polk County, 1,200 in Orange County and at least 4,000 in Volusia County on Florida’s east coast. These numbers are likely to increase as damage assessment teams reach more areas.
Homeowners without flood insurance have other options for recovering losses, but these are limited. As CNN noted, one option is to apply for other government aids such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) individual assistance programs. These payments are capped at approximately $38,000. In past cases following hurricanes, payouts typically ranged between $5,000 and $10,000.
“American disaster programs assume homeowners are insured,” Roy Wright, former chief executive of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, told CNN. He added that individual assistance programs are not designed as safety nets but rather as a means of lending a helping hand.
Another possibility is for Congress to pass additional disaster relief, similar to what happened after previous major hurricanes such as Katrina and Sandy. However, it could take months for funding to be approved and distributed to affected communities.
“Unless you have flood insurance, the federal government won’t give you enough help to rebuild your home,” Rob Moore, director of the Natural Resources Defense’s water and climate team, told NPR. Council.
Most experts advise homeowners who live in flood prone areas to take out separate flood insurance because it’s the best way to make sure you’re covered in the event of damage.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Flood Insurance: Most Central Florida Homeowners Are Not Covered: What Help Is Available?