Nichos flooded (copy)

Floodwaters cover the town of Nichols on Sept. 21, 2018 in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

Over the last four years, flood waters have risen again and again in South Carolina, yet the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has not seen a significant rise in flood insurance policies from the Palmetto State. It is time that South Carolinians take flooding seriously and consider purchasing flood insurance.

The fact is, if it rains at your house, chances are you’re at risk for flooding.

The 1,000-year flood of 2015 brought about $12 billion in costly damages to homes, businesses and infrastructure throughout the coast and midlands. Homes that had never seen a threat of flood were destroyed; families lost everything due to the rising waters.

Since then, hurricanes and tropical storms Matthew, Irma and Florence have all brought damage and devastation to coastal and inland cities, costing the people of South Carolina extraordinary amounts of money.

South Carolina residents are grossly underinsured for flood damage. Most coastal homeowners and renters are aware of the potential threat of flood that comes every year with hurricane season.

But as you move inland, or away from low-lying areas and rivers, the threat of flood seems more distant. It’s not.

Take the town of Nichols, for example. Nichols is not a coastal town, yet it has been repeatedly devastated by flooding as rising waters come down rivers and rain from storms pummels the area. Nichols has seen so much damage over the past four years, it was a top priority for Gov. Henry McMaster’s Floodwater Commission for a flood prevention workday earlier this month.

Look across the state and you will find many other examples of severe damages due to flooding.

Many homeowners aren’t aware that their homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover them in the event of a flood, so additional coverage is needed if you wish to protect your home.

Also, flood insurance doesn’t go into effect immediately. There is a waiting period of 30 days, so you need to plan ahead.

Flooding isn’t something that might happen, it is something that does happen. And when it happens to you, don’t you want to be protected?

Even as little as an inch of water in your home can cause up to $25,000 worth of damage — and that’s just considering the structural damage to your home, not the losses to your belongings.

Consumers have few choices when it comes to flood insurance coverage. The main option — the NFIP — enables property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance administered by the government against losses from flooding.

In the past several years, the NFIP has faced difficulties as it comes up for renewal, and Congress cannot agree on a way to solve the issues of funding the program.

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Here at the S.C. Department of Insurance, we support a long-term renewal of the NFIP, and any reauthorization should encourage flood mitigation efforts and include language to facilitate greater growth in the private flood insurance market.

As with any insurance market, competition is vital to keeping rates affordable.

The SCDOI is leading the way in encouraging companies to offer private flood insurance policies at competitive rates. We believe that by raising awareness about the deep need consumers have for flood insurance and by creating a stable and competitive market, the state could see an increase in flood insurance policies being bought, resulting in our communities being better equipped to recover when disaster inevitably strikes.

Now is the time to buy flood insurance so you are protected when a storm comes.

Talk to a trusted insurance agent today to understand your risk and to make the best-informed decision for your home.

Ray Farmer is director of the S.C. Department of Insurance.

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