More than two months after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a category 4 storm, blue roofs, lingering debris piles and other signs of recovery still dot the landscape. Some homeowners escaped unscathed, while others experienced a total loss, but no matter how much damage Ida did to your property, insurance should be a facet of your recovery—and part of your preparedness plan for the next storm.
Read on for a few words of expert advice from Brian J. Gohres of Emery & James Ltd.
Research your flood zone (it may have changed)
It’s the oldest advice in the book—review your policies for deadlines, coverage and deductibles. Most Louisiana residents know their homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover damage from floodwaters, so flood insurance is a must. Keep in mind that on Oct. 1, FEMA implemented a new pricing system for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies called Risk Rating 2.0, which affects around 5 million homeowners. It’s possible that your flood insurance coverage has increased, but it also may have stayed the same after the overhaul, which utilized private sector data sets, catastrophe models and actuarial science to calculate each property’s flood risk.
“FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will begin to offer more equitable and risk-informed rates,” FEMA officials stated in a press release.
If you live in a FEMA-designated flood zone, you are required to purchase flood insurance. But historically, flooding hasn’t been confined to these areas, especially in Louisiana (Baton Rouge residents may remember the historic 2016 floods that brought high water to neighborhoods that had never seen it before). For this reason, Gohres recommends every homeowner in southeast Louisiana consider flood insurance.
“Flood is extremely important right now,” Gohres said. “Homeowners should research their flood zones. With the flood changes that took place Oct. 1, how flood insurance is going to affect their overall premium moving forward is changing. Check around for premiums and coverage limits with respect to what is left in the marketplace after Hurricane Ida.”
Know that post-Ida, things are complicated.
Markets, in general, are challenging post-Ida, Gohres said, and some insurance carriers who were writing before Hurricane Ida have since suspended writing new business. “Some are not writing any longer, especially in the South,” Gohres said. “If somebody is moving to south Louisiana, they need to look around and find an agent they trust. Let that agent assist them in shopping their premium around.”
An expert is your best ally in the search for optimal homeowners and flood insurance policies—so do your research, ask around, and feel free to reach out to our agents for referrals. Ultimately, your insurance carrier is one of the most vital defenses between yourself and the extreme climate challenges facing coastal Louisiana. For all these challenges, though, it’s still one of the most beautiful, historic, culturally significant places to create a home.