First let's get a little perspective. Generally "the news" consists of scary, threatening, ominous stories; keyword there is "stories." That's what the media does to make money; scare folks to get their attention for advertising sales. How well does the news media predict anything? Not very well. How often is the weather man right in predicting weather for tomorrow much less two or three months in advance? The answer is obvious. We need the rain and I would love to see it happen but there is no panic. So to begin, let's all relax.
What constitutes a "flood" as covered by a Flood Insurance Policy? Folks may casually refer to a water pipe breaking in their house or a sewer back-up as a flood. "We came home from vacation and our house was flooded." That's not the correct definition when referring to flood insurance.
Here is the FEMA definition for the purposes of the National Flood Insurance Program:
A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder's property) from:
–Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
–Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
–Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above."
Got that? A general rise in the overall level of water or mud covering an area of approximately 2 acres or more or extending across 2 or more properties.
A normal homeowner policy does not cover Flood damage just as it does not include Earthquake damage. In order to cover your house for Flood damage, you must buy a Flood Insurance Policy. The rates are set by the federal government so regardless of where you buy your policy, it will cost the same.
How much does Flood Insurance cost? You must get a quote from an insurance agent or broker, like me. It will be a lot less expensive if your house is built on a raised foundation that is adequately vented and in an area that is not prone to floods. The current government plan only covers structure damage up to $250,000 and contents coverage up to $100,000. If you want more coverage you can buy Excess Flood Insurance, a separate policy that takes the limits of coverage higher than the federal plan.
That's it in a nutshell. For more detail on the National Flood Insurance Program, go to the FEMA website. If you want more data on El Nino, check out the International Research Institute (IRI), part of Columbia University, NY.