Having been an insurance agent in California for over 20 years I’ve heard the same questions hundreds of times: “Do I need Flood Insurance in California?” ”How much is Flood Insurance in California?” “This isn’t Florida or Texas – it doesn’t flood in California…right?” While these questions are simple, their answers are anything but.
Who Needs Flood Insurance in California?
When people think about California in relation to catastrophes, the first thing that comes to mind is earthquakes and wildfires. The ironic thing is that not only do these two exposures increase the likelihood of flooding but flooding unrelated to fires and earthquakes is one of the biggest risks for California homeowners and businesses.
When wildfires burn, two things occur that dramatically increase the likelihood of flooding. First, fires destroy the watershed that normally traps runoff and helps water absorb naturally back into the soil. But the intense heat also melts the minerals in the soil, creating a waxy surface so when it rains the water accumulates and flows. The tragic flooding
in Montecito, California in 2018 is a perfect example of just how devastating floods after wildfires can be: $421.9 million
in property damage, 107 homes declared total losses and 23 lives lost.
While California is being ravaged by yet another devastating fire season and a large earthquake is always on the horizon, it’s the risk of a catastrophic flood that could be the next “Big One” in the Golden State. An ARkStorm Scenario
that caused the Great Flood of 1862 can happen again. These atmospheric river events happen approximately every 200 years
and can cause flooding of biblical proportions. In addition, California has over 100 valleys which are natural floodplains, including the Central Valley that stretches over 450 miles long, averages 50 miles wide and has over 6 million inhabitants.
Regarding how much flood insurance in California costs, that depends on the location, elevation and unique characteristics of a home. Premium can range anywhere from $200 to over $10,000 a year. The good news is that Private Flood Insurance, such as EZ Flood available from Aon Edge, has created a marketplace that encourages innovation and competition, which is good for consumers and society at large.
To recap: Any home in California can flood at any time under certain circumstances, you should consider purchasing flood insurance to help protect what may be your most valuable asset, and the cost can be less than a cup of coffee a day. There may be a waiting period for flood insurance so call your agent for a quote today - if you wait until the storm hits it may be too late.
This article is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide individualized advice.