If you don't live next to a major body of water, you might think that flood insurance is just another add-on that generates revenue for the insurance agency. However, that may mean you don't properly appreciate the risk posed by flash floods. In fact, despite popular perception, flash flooding is a risk anywhere in the world that receives rain and is responsible for more deaths each year in the U.S. than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning strikes.
Understanding what causes flash floods and just how you might be at risk is critical to knowing what insurance coverage you need. Fortunately, the elements that create flash floods are somewhat straightforward.
What Is a Flash Flood?
Simply put, a flash flood is a flood characterized by a rapid onset and a short duration. Unlike major coastal or river flooding that can last for weeks, flash floods last less than a day. Often, flash floods happen without a significant warning period and subside very rapidly as well.
These floods are often caused by major rain storms, though that is not the only possible cause. Melting ice, overflowing rivers or creeks, and structural failures in dams and drains can often have the same impact as a heavy rainstorm. These factors often combine with one another under adverse conditions as well.
Who Is At Risk?
While it might seem like flash flooding would be limited to areas with rivers, lakes, or creeks, everyone is at risk for flash flooding. No matter how well built an area's drainage system is, the chance always exists for rainfall to exceed that system's capacity. In areas that don't receive much rain on a yearly basis, this is especially true due to insufficient infrastructure.
Rural areas are likely to have creeks, rivers, and lakes in the vicinity. During major rainfall, the rapid addition of water to these preexisting bodies of water creates a major hazard. Also, many rural homes aren't able to take advantage of the drainage infrastructure that major cities provide.
Urban areas might seem like they are immune to flash flooding, but the opposite is true here as well. The lack of exposed soil and suitable areas for runoff create a difficult situation for the area's drainage and sewer systems. Also, due to the density of people and property in these areas, the impact of flash flooding is often much worse from a financial perspective.
That means no matter where you live, flood insurance might be something you should consider. Take a look at your area's weather history, and above all, don't immediately disregard the option when it comes time to buy your homeowner's insurance policy. You're probably more at risk for flood damage than you think.
For more information, contact your homeowners insurance company.