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Less than 10% of North Carolinians are insured against flood damage

Insurance experts estimate that coverage rates in inland counties, less likely to flood but hit hard by Hurricane Florence, are closer to 3-5%.
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 8:20 PM EDT
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TRENTON, N.C. (WITN) - Lessons learned after Hurricane Florence changed lives for so many in Eastern Carolina.

It took months, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, for St. Stephen Church in Trenton to get back on its feet and get its community back on its knees.

“It was a sight to behold,” said Deacon Jerol Bryant. “We just thank the Lord for the donations that we received.”

The church was under several feet of water. When church leaders finally were able to survey the damage, they said pews were turned over and the waist-high flood water damaged the walls.

While the church was insured, they did not have flood insurance. $200,000 out-of-pocket later, the inside of the church was built again from scratch.

The church bought flood insurance after that, but most North Carolinians don’t. Going into hurricane season, the North Carolina Rate Bureau estimates that less than 10% of North Carolinians are insured against flood damage.

“Floods are excluded from standard home insurance policies,” said Insurance Agent Richard Kolstad. “So many people don’t understand that.”

Experts estimate coverage rates are much higher along our coast. But coverage rates further inland, places that don’t typically flood but were still hit hard by Hurricane Florence, are closer to 3-5%.

“About 70-80% of the claims of the flood losses were in those ‘X-Zones,’ so they were uninsured,” said Kolstad.

In North Carolina, flood insurance will cover up to $250,000 worth of structural damage plus $100,000 worth of damage to contents. Kolstad said most policies will require a 30-day waiting period after purchasing insurance before a claim can be filed.

Back when Hurricane Florence came through, places like Trenton were considered part of the “X-Zones,” places where the risk of flooding is considered to be low. But floodwaters rose after the storm 29 feet above the Trent River’s typical levels.

“We just thank God for everything,” said Bryant. “He is our helper. He’s gonna make sure that we do what is right.”

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