House and Home

Local homeowners reviewing insurance policies in response to Harvey flooding

People looking into purchasing flood insurance

Local homeowners reviewing insurance...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A drive over the Santa Maria River Bridge on Highway 101 shows motorists water currently flowing in the river below.

The uncommon sight during the middle of summer is a reminder Santa Maria can potentially be at risk for flooding.

"Yes, I do worry about it a lot," said Joce Acevedo, who lives just a few hundred yards south of the normally dry riverbed. "But for it to get flooded, you would have to really have heavy storms."

If the river were to ever breach the nearby levee, Acevedo said he's prepared to protect his home and belongings.

"Because we live so close to the levee, we have to have flood insurance," said Acevedo.

Many around the country, including the Santa Maria Valley, are now reviewing personal insurance policies in the aftermath of the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas.

For homes located in a high risk flood zone, such as Acevedo's, flood insurance is typically required by mortgage companies during the purchase of the house.

"If you're in a high risk zone, before a mortgage company will give you a loan, they often times will say you need to secure flood insurance in order to secure this loan you have," said State Farm Insurance agent Donna Randolph.

For other homes, in lower-risk zones, flood insurance is not required, which can potentially put owners at risk if a flood were to ever hit.

"Homeowners insurance cover doesn't flood insurance," said Randolph. "Flood insurance is a federal government program through the national flood insurance program."

Flood insurance policies are purchased through licensed agents, such as Randolph, who has offices in Santa Maria and Orcutt.

Randolph says her phone has been ringing more than usual ever since Harvey struck last week.

"It always happens when there's a weather event of this kind, especially when it's this magnitude," Randolph said. "People are calling in to ask about flood, get insurance quotes for flood."

Randolph adds when storms like Harvey do happen, it's a great time for people to review their policies to make sure they are sufficiently protected.

"It all comes down to proper planning," said Randolph. "Making sure you have the right coverage for you and your family based on your needs and having that conversation with your agent so there are no surprises at claim time."

When it comes to flood, Randolph stresses that homeowners need a separate policy than just homeowner's insurance.

"It's not a covered loss on homeowner's insurance," Randolph said. "So you need to have flood insurance for your home in order to have protection."

According to industry sources, the average national cost of flood insurance is around $600-$700.

However, Randolph, who carries flood insurance herself for her Santa Maria home, notes that price is based on a wide variety of variables, such as location of house, size of the home, amount of deductible, just to name a few.

Whatever the cost for flood insurance, Acevedo says it's worth every penny.

"You work hard for what you have and if you don't have insurance once it's gone, it's gone, you're left with nothing, all that you have with you," Acevedo said.

With the Houston area devastated by flooding, Randolph points out that people on the Central Coast should take heed and make sure they're prepared when a natural disaster strikes, whether it be flood, earthquake, fire or other catastrophe.

"Go in and meet with your agent," said Randolph. "If you haven't' done a review, review those coverages, so you know what is and isn't covered and you can make the best decision for your family."

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