This past weekend, while the East Coast was getting buried under snow, parts of the West Coast—including Northern California—were hit hard by powerful rainstorms with high winds that downed trees and disrupted power for many. To those who live elsewhere, Californians make a big fuss about rain, and the news media does its part in adding to the hype. While the rain from this storm will likely not have a big impact on the current drought situation, rain is still something that the state needs a great deal of, but preferably not at once.
The weather prognosticators were predicting flooding with this past storm, but because the storm moved through a lot quicker than expected, the flooding was not as severe and widespread. The California Insurance Commissioner urged homeowners to review to review their insurance policies in advance of the storm.1 I agree with the Commissioner when he says that "it is imperative that homeowners and renters understand their policy and what is covered." He also pointed out that a traditional homeowner’s policy does not cover flood coverage. That is true. While many Californians do not live in areas subject to flooding, the recent storms show the potential for flooding that reach beyond communities close to streams and rivers. Homeowners who live near hillsides burned in wildfires are exposed to flood risk due to heavy rain runoff that was once more containable by the natural vegetation.
For many Californians, whether to purchase flood insurance (unless you are required to because you live in a designated flood zone) is similar to deciding on whether to buy earthquake insurance. Most have to consider the expense of the additional insurance and weigh the costs, risks and benefits. Those who are interested in looking into flood insurance, I recommend that you read the Flood Insurance Fact Sheet available on the California Department of Insurance website. It’s good to place to begin if one is considering getting flood insurance.
1 California Dept. of Insurance, Press Release "Consumers urged to review insurance policy before second storm," Feb. 7, 2015.