As Houston begins its rebuilding process from Hurricane Harvey, experts estimate only about 20 percent of now-flooded homes in the Lone Star State have flood insurance, suggesting the vast majority of homeowners will have a long, expensive road ahead if they can find a way to afford moving back in at all.
Most of those homeowners live in low-risk zones where they didn’t think they’d need it. Homes within a one percent flood zone, meaning the property has a one percent chance of flooding in any given year, are required to have flood insurance.
Many of the properties damaged in Harvey were in a 0.2 percent flood zone. Those zones exist in almost every part of the country, Connecticut included.
"Now, whether it’s Connecticut or Florida, (people) look at that and they go, 'Okay, I’m in a low-risk zone. Now it’s time to buy flood insurance'," the Flood Insurance Agency’s CEO Evan Hecht said.
Hecht said in the week since Harvey, inquiries about voluntary flood insurance from low-risk zones are up 1,500 percent. That’s compared to the 50 percent increase he expects in typical hurricane seasons.
"FEMA is certainly larger than we are so my numbers aren’t representative of the entire picture," Hecht said. "But we have enough numbers that mathematically, would play out across the entire spectrum."
As far as benefits go, some policies will cover up to $250,000 in building damage and $100,000 in contents coverage for less than $500 per year.
That would save homeowners just as much in the next big storm, assuming they keep it.
“We did experience something similar after Katrina and within three years, people allowed those policies to die," said Hecht.