Floods can happen anywhere at any time. Just one inch of water in a home can cost more than $25,000 in damage.

Knowing the flood risk for your home and having the right kind of homeowner’s insurance policy can help you deal with flooding should it occur. Most homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage. Unfortunately, many property owners do not find this out until it is too late.

I encourage you to look into flood insurance for the protection of your home, whether or not you have a mortgage. The Town of Hilton Head Island participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, which makes flood insurance available to every homeowner in the Town’s boundaries, regardless of your flood zone.

Flood risks change over time. Updated flood maps for the Town of Hilton Head Island became effective on March 23, 2021, and show whether your property’s flood risk has changed. You can view updated flood maps on the Town’s website at hiltonheadislandsc.gov. Click on “How Do I …” in the menu at left, then “Find .…”

If you are no longer shown in a high-risk area and you have a mortgage, your lender might not require flood insurance. However, you might still be at risk of flooding although it might be at a reduced level. There is no such thing as “no risk,” especially on a barrier island.

While it might not be required, your flood insurance might be less expensive to obtain. Ask your insurance agent about the option of converting your existing policy to a lower-cost preferred risk policy.

If your flood risk has increased and you have a mortgage, most lenders will require flood insurance. Contact your insurance agent to discuss your options, including the benefits of continuous coverage and transferring your policy if you choose to sell or transfer your home to another owner.

If there are no changes for your property, double-check your coverage. Are you insured at replacement cost? Do you have contents coverage? If you don’t currently have flood insurance, you might qualify for the Preferred Risk Policy.

Whether you rent or own, make sure you have contents coverage for your clothes, furniture, appliances, and other personal belongings. Some coverage is better than no coverage to help you recover more quickly when it floods.

Flood insurance policies typically take 30 days to go into effect.  Do not wait until disaster strikes to learn that you are underinsured or not covered. Contact your insurance agent today.

Please remember, you live on a barrier island. Protect the life that you have built with flood insurance. If you have questions about your property-specific flood hazard determination, please contact the Town’s Floodplain Administrator, Shari Mendrick, at ShariM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov or 843-341-4687. She will be glad to assist you.

John McCann is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov