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Experts stress importance of flood insurance after Florida hit by Hurricane Ian, Nicole

Less than 50% of Florida homeowners have flood insurance, according to Insurance Information Institute
A resident walks along her flooded street following the passage of Hurricane Nicole, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Vero Beach, Fla.
Posted at 10:39 PM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 23:01:59-05

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Hurricane Nicole is bringing new awareness to the importance of having flood insurance.

Less than half of Florida homeowners actually purchase it, according to the Insurance Information Institute. And that's with Florida being ranked as the most hurricane-prone state in the U.S.

"I would say nine out of 10 buyers do not obtain it," Brent Colby, a realtor with the Brent Colby Group in Wellington.

Colby sees what happens when his clients decide not to protect their homes.

Brett Colby, realtor at Brett Colby Group at RE/MAX Direct
Brett Colby explains what homeowners need to analyze when pondering if they should buy flood insurance.

"Once you get water into your house, and it starts going above that baseboard line and into the drywall, it causes a lot of damage," Colby said.

The real estate broker said just because you're not in a flood-prone area doesn't mean you don't need flood insurance.

"Even with Hurricane Ian, the majority of the claims came from areas not in the flood zone," Colby said.

Colby added many of his clients are afraid of the cost. However, he said the price of insurance is typically much less than the cost of damage from devastating storms.

Drivers navigate a flooded street following the passage of Hurricane Nicole, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Fort Pierce, Fla.
Drivers navigate a flooded street following the passage of Hurricane Nicole, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, in Fort Pierce, Fla.

"If you're not in a flood zone, it can be as cheap as $500 a year," Colby said. "If you are in a flood zone, of course, it can be a bit more, but even for my multifamily home on the Intracoastal [Waterway], about five lots away from the Intracoastal, it's about $1,500 a year. To me, that's one of those properties that I'm always going to carry it. It's just way too close to that water, and I've seen what it can do," said Colby.

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, Palm Beach County reported 2,650 insurance claims after Hurricane Ian.

"It just once again comes down to risk tolerance," Colby said. "We live in South Florida. You just have to be careful."

For some homeowners, like Jerome Calderone, the devastation that Hurricane Ian caused was a reason to purchase insurance of his own.

"I just like two weeks ago purchased flood insurance," Calderone said. "Just in time."

The Delray Beach resident said he was thankful to have coverage as Hurricane Nicole hit South Florida on Wednesday into Thursday, causing flooding for many residents in the city's historic Marina neighborhood.

Jerome Calderone, Delray Beach resident who bought flood insurance
Jerome Calderone said he bought flood insurance after Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida in September.

"That’s the reality we live with, that storm surge can be brutal," Calderone said. "My heart goes out to them."

Calderone's own home wasn't damaged by the storm.

"It was smooth sailing," Calderone, a Delray Beach window washer, said.

Knowing his home is only 2 miles from the coast, he is still thankful to have purchased insurance ahead of the next storm.

"It's kind of a no-brainer," Calderone said. "For the little money that it is, the protection is a good value."

Colby recommends his clients do their research before purchasing flood insurance and find out what policy is right for them.

"Every buyer and homeowner is a bit different," Colby said.

Colby added that doing your research and consulting with a realtor can help residents find the best policy at the right price. Click here to learn more about flood insurance.

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