If you're in the Nashville area, this topic has become part of ongoing conversation: Do I really need flood insurance?

As you know, Tennessee had an overwhelming flood in May 2010. It didn't make a huge splash nationally, due to an oil spill crisis and a willingness on the part of Tennesseans to do what it took to get it cleaned up, but it was a traumatic, life-altering event for many homeowners, landlords and business owners, along with thousands of impacted employees.

Once the immediate crisis was past, and people began the moving or rebuilding process, a torrent of concerns about flood insurance came up. Most people who were required by their lender to have it, had insurance. Almost everyone else did not. Many investors who paid cash did not have it on their rental property, even if it was in a flood plain. Anyone directly affected by the flood regretted not having insurance immensely. Those who witnessed the tragic consequences had endless discussions about whether they should have flood insurance or not.

Over the months, those same people who considered flood insurance have let the thought drift from their consciousness, without taking action. Many of the people who had to rebuild after the flood, still do not have flood insurance.

Is this a reasonable risk to take?
If the home is in a 100 year flood plain, that means it won't flood for 100 more years, right? Well, that's logical, but not correct.

A 100-year flood has approximately a 63.4% chance of occurring in any 100-year period, not a 100 percent chance of occurring. Ten-year floods have a 10% chance of occurring in any given year, 500-year have a 0.2% chance of occurring in any given year. This means that in ANY given year, there is still a possibility that your property could flood, however slight.

There is also the factor of topography changes: like new parking lots, construction with changes to land mass/runoff, runoff from streets, clogged or re-routed drain pipes, streams and rivers, Corp of Engineer changes to dams, rivers and lakes, etc. And of course, what is done above our property will have an effect as well (ie: Kentucky runoff, water control, etc.) These changes occur all the time, and  can have a significant affect on water control and flooding for your particular location. Add relentless rain, and flood conditions change quickly.

Is it wise to get flood insurance? Are you a gambler or do you seek peace of mind? A typical policy for a low risk area is around $129 per YEAR. This is very inexpensive.

But, keep in mind this is for the structure, only. You MUST add a rider (at an additional modest cost) to cover your personal property, such as furniture, clothing, appliances, food and toiletries. Most people who had flood insurance discovered that none of their personal property was covered by the policy, unless they had the rider. I am not clear why their insurance agents didn't discuss this with them, but this has been a devastating discovery, as almost no one had personal property riders with their flood insurance policy.

Here is a wonderful link outlining inexpensive flood insurance, along with calculations about what it costs to repair after 1" flood, 2" flood, etc. Very interesting site.


Personally, I believe that this is a very inexpensive way to avoid calamity. A flood is devastating, to have your home or business damaged and your one of a kind photos, art, treasures, mementos lost is hard enough. Nothing can replace those items. However, having flood insurance and a personal property rider can help you rebuild your home (or buy a new one, if it's beyond repair or codes/engineering rejects a rebuild on the existing site) and obtain the necessities to set up your home again.

I encourage you to make a commitment to yourself to protect your investment and possessions, should the unlikely occur.

And as my friend, John Brittle, Jr, a fellow Realtor has done, I encourage all fellow Realtors, along with lenders and insurance agents, to educate their clients on the value of flood insurance, and the significance of a personal property rider for that policy. 

If you are a home owner or potential first time buyer, be sure to explore the potential for flooding and consider a flood insurance policy as part of your overall costs of purchasing and maintaining a home. Ask questions of your home owner's insurance provider (this is a good reason why I encourage you to seek personal relationship, along with favorable rates, when considering where to buy your policy. Having an insurance agent you can speak with in person and who can provide you with more than a website link and a bill, is significant.)

Key point: you are ultimately responsible for your decisions, and can suffer the consequences. Be an informed consumer and seek information and wise counsel to help you make wise decisions to protect your property and possessions.

Happy house hunting, happy house owning, stay dry!
Sher Powers