Finding an insurance agent that is knowledgeable in flood insurance is important because, like Goldilocks, a well-qualified agent can help you get coverage that is “just right” for you. A well-qualified agent can help you compare private flood insurance versus the rates offered through the National Flood Insurance Program, and offer valuable advice about other things you can do to obtain affordable flood insurance coverage.
Here are some questions you may want to ask agents as you shop around for the right agent:
- How many flood insurance policies do you write each year?
- How are you keeping up on changes to the National Flood Insurance Program?
- In what zone is my property located?
- Do I need an elevation certificate? How would it benefit me?
- How much coverage do I need?
- Will my policy cover replacement cost value or actual cash value?
- Does my policy cover contents?
- Do I have to buy insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program?
(The answer is “No, you can buy private insurance, however…”)
- Can I escrow my flood insurance?
(The answer is “yes, but let’s talk about what that would mean to you…”)
Informed insurance agents can keep costs down
Flood insurance is a complex product and it has undergone several major changes in the last five years. Additionally, insurance agents in Oregon are not required to do continuing education on flood insurance. Because of all this, some insurance agents have not followed the major legislative changes that have occurred. This has resulted in mistakes on people's flood policies; mistakes that often mean homeowners are left paying more than they should. (And because flood insurance is complex, you may not even realize a mistake occurred!) For example, some property owners are paying more than they should because their insurance agent has mistakenly rated the home as being a rental or secondary home, rather than a “primary residence.” Something as simple as that can add $225 hundred dollars to your bill each a year. Insurance agents may also put the wrong Flood Zone on the form, which means they get charged a higher insurance rate; other times, homeowners are actually paying for more personal property (contents) coverage than they need.
The point is you may want to seek out advice from an insurance agent who is well-qualified in flood insurance, as opposed to a general insurance agent.