The vast majority of California flood victims’ losses won’t be covered by insurance

By Chris Isidore | CNN

New York – Many victims of the massive storms now battering California about are to be hit with another heartbreak – discovering their insurance won’t cover the damage.

The typical homeowners’ policy won’t cover loss from flood damage. That is covered by the National Flood Insurance Program, a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But in California, where drought, not flooding, had been the more common problem until recently, homeowners are about as prepared for flood damage as hurricane-prone Florida residents are for earthquakes.

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Data from NFIP shows only 52,400 homes and businesses are covered by flood insurance in the eight Southern California counties declared a disaster area because of this storm. That’s less than 1% of 7.7 million households in the affected area with coverage. Those counties have a combined population of more than 22.6 million people, according to the latest estimates from the Census Bureau.

Los Angeles County, with more than 10 million residents, has only 14,600 flood insurance policies in force. That’s roughly the same number as Lee County, Florida, which includes Fort Myers, and has fewer than 1 million residents.

Even some of those with flood insurance could find their policies won’t cover all of their losses. The federal policies have a limit of covering only $250,000 in damage to structures and $100,000 to the home’s contents. Those limits can be quickly exceeded, especially in Southern California. Homeowners can buy excess flood insurance coverage to match the limits of coverage on their homeowners policies, but many do not bother to do so.

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