More Businesses Seek Flood Insurance After Sandy

November 18, 2012

Interest among businesses in purchasing flood insurance coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is increasing in the wake of Superstorm Sandy’s heavy rain, record storm surge, and resulting widespread flood damage, according to insurance broker Marsh.

Although most companies purchase commercial flood insurance through the private market, more are now inquiring about purchasing additional coverage through the NFIP. When used in tandem, NFIP coverage can mitigate or “buy down” large deductibles associated with commercial flood policies or simply provide additional coverage.

Under the NFIP, non-residential businesses can purchase up to $500,000 in building and $500,000 in content coverage, while residential businesses can purchase up to $250,000 in building and $100,000 in content coverage. Marsh’s Flood Service Center can place up to $30 million in excess of NFIP flood insurance, including business interruption, with A-rated insurance capacity.

“NFIP coverage and commercial flood insurance policies are complementary in that they can be structured to work in concert with one another,” said Duncan Ellis, Marsh’s US Property Practice Leader. “That said, many businesses rely solely on the commercial marketplace and do not purchase additional coverage through the NFIP, despite the widespread availability and relatively inexpensive cost. Given the massive flooding from Sandy, businesses appear to be re-thinking their approach to flood coverage.”

“We are seeing an uptick in the number of calls inquiring about NFIP coverage since the storm,” said Patrice Collingwood, leader of Marsh’s Flood Service Center, which specializes in placing NFIP coverage. “By purchasing NFIP coverage in addition to commercial flood, companies impacted by a flooding event can direct moneys that would otherwise be set aside to pay for deductibles toward other recovery efforts.”

According to NFIP, almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen following a disaster because of water damage. Over the past five years, the average commercial flood claim has been about $75,000.

While business owners can purchase flood insurance from the NFIP, the policy limit of $500,000 is often inadequate. So they turn to commercial insurers for flood insurance protection. Out of NFIP’s more than 5.5 million policies, only about 283,000 are non-residential.

NFIP Policies in Force by Occupancy Type

Single Family Home 3,794,882
2 to 4 Family Unit 171,975
Condominiums 1,128,130
Other Residential 164,381
Non-Residential 283,498
Unknown Occupancy 1
All Policies 5,542,867

Many commercial buildings in a moderate-to-low risk area qualify for NFIP coverage at a preferred rate for building and contents coverage. Contents-only coverage is also available. Commercial coverage provides up to $500,000 of insurance to protect a building and up to $500,000 to protect contents. Preferred risk premiums start at $584 per year for both building and contents, while contents-only coverage starts at $167 per year.

Businesses that do not qualify for a preferred risk NFIP policy may be able to purchase a standard rated policy. Standard policy premiums start at $1,535 for building and contents, and at $630 for contents-only.

Premiums for buildings in high risk flood areas start at $1,750 for buildings and contents and $$850 for contents-only. NFIP charges higher rates for buildings in coastal areas: $2,280 to start for buildings and contents and $1,110 for contents-only.

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