Without even thinking too hard, one would assume that the answer to purchasing flood insurance in Florida would be a definite yes. The state is almost an island with most of the area surrounded by water and a small portion of land attached to the rest of the country. Because of the state's precarious position, it really has no protection from hurricanes, gale force winds and storms pushing water onto the land. And living inland would not be that much better either. The width is just over three hundred and fifty miles. Not very wide when a massive storm crashes onto land.
Like other states whose areas fall in the Special Flood Hazard Areas, banks and mortgage companies will require flood insurance on certain homes. And also, like other states, the NFIP requires that those who have previously received assistance after a flood, purchase flood insurance for the remainder of the time they live in that home or forfeit their chances of future assistance.
Given the fact that Florida is consistently and regularly hit by hurricanes, it is amazing that everyone does not have flood insurance. Although many people purchase flood insurance, FEMA still urges many more to buy. The problem is, however, that people think about what might happen when they hear weather reports of an impending hurricane. This is too late to purchase in preparation for that particular storm. The NFIP requires a thirty day waiting period before the policy comes into effect so buying right before a hurricane hits will be useless. People need to think in advance of hurricane season and obtain their insurance so that it will be effective when they need it.
FEMA further states that everyone that lives in Florida lives in a flood zone. It may not be high-risk but all areas of Florida are classified as some type of floodplain. To encourage all homeowners to take flood insurance, the NFIP offers a low cost Preferred Risk Policy
for those living outside of the hundred-year floodplain. (The 100 year floodplain means that in a 30 year mortgage, a house in the 100 year flood zone would have a 26% chance of flooding.)
Next to Texas and California, Florida is the third highest state in declared disasters. To put this number into perspective, Hawaii, which is an island, is actually far down the list at number thirty-six. In 2003, Florida was bashed with four hurricanes and one tropical storm. And in years where hurricanes were not declared disasters, excessive flooding was.
Other statistical reasons to buy flood insurance in Florida are:
- Flooding is typically the most frequent hazard in Florida.
- Florida's flat terrain makes it difficult to remove excess water.
- Because of the flat terrain, water moves farther inland than it would when encountering hills and valleys.
- Rivers can be turned into lakes, as was the case in 1997-98 during the El Niņo floods coupled with extended heavy rainfall.
- Small stream flash floods occur in less than one hour making advance warning difficult.
- Tropical cyclones pose great problems inland as the water is pushed for miles.
In conclusion, one can clearly see that flood insurance is needed for residents of Florida.