In April, Houston, Texas was hit with what was said to be the largest flood event in the area since tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called the flood "unprecedented." Some areas of Houston received up to 15 inches of rain in 24 hours.
The flood certainly left its mark on the Texas city, leaving eight people dead and destroying more than 1,700 homes. Flights were cancelled, schools shut down, and mass transit was suspended.
This flood was just the latest in a series of flood events that have hit the area. Springtime is especially prone to floods, as snow begins to melt and the severe weather season begins. Weather.com reports that more than a dozen floods since March 2015 have occurred in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
And with the temperatures increasing throughout the world, floods are becoming more and more common. While not all are as extreme as the one in Houston, even small floods still present a problem for renters and homeowners.
Homeowners flood insurance
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) notes that all 50 states have had a flood in the last five years. Despite this, homeowners may be surprised to learn that floods aren't covered in a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy.
Flood insurance isn't usually required, but homeowners should know that it doesn't take much water to wreak havoc on your house. A couple inches of water can create thousands of dollars in damages.
If you want to protect your house and belongings, you'll need to buy separate flood insurance. Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flood insurance is generally affordable and easy to purchase. Even though it's administered through FEMA, homeowners can get it through an agent similar to buying other kinds of insurance.
The average cost for flood insurance is $700 a year. This is for both renters and homeowners. Beginning April 1, 2016, FEMA increased insurance premiums. On average, the rate went up nine percent, making flood insurance still relatively affordable.
If you need flood insurance, it's best to buy it as soon as possible. Your policy won't go into effect until 30 days after you purchase your policy.
Even if you don't live in a high-risk area for floods, you may end up needing it one day. According to the NFIP, around 20 percent of claims come from people living in low to moderate risk areas.
Want to know more? Read our article about flood insurance basics.
Does my car insurance cover damages from a flood?
Your house isn't protected without separate flood insurance, but what about your car? It depends on the type of car insurance you have. If you only have liability insurance, you won't be covered. But drivers who have comprehensive coverage can make a claim for flood damages.
Granted, a comprehensive policy can be more expensive than just liability insurance. Comprehensive coverage protects your car from damages that don't occur in a car crash. That includes natural disasters like tornadoes, hail storms, and floods.
How to protect yourself from a flood
With floods occurring more often, it's important to be prepared. Of course, buying flood and comprehensive insurance is the best way to financially protect your car, home, and belongings.
To find out if you're in a high risk location, go to floodsmart.gov. Fill out the one-step flood risk profile to find out your risk level. Then come up with a plan with your family or roommates on where you'll evacuate to if needed.
Prepare an emergency kit in case of a flood. Another good idea is to create copies of important documents to keep in a waterproof container.
If you know about a storm ahead of time, make sure the doors and windows of your car are closed. Move your car to higher ground if possible to reduce the chance of damage.