CHARLOTTE—After making its mark in the South, Northeast and Midwest, 'Sandy' is already expected to be one of the costliest American storms ever.
In the weeks ahead, the actual cost of the wind and flood damage for insurance companies will become more clear. However not all homeowners are fully covered, which could affect policy holders in North Carolina.
As the northeast's cleanup and recovery efforts continue in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, so too is another massive undertaking; insurance adjustments and claims. Thousands of people are also learning their homeowners insurance 'does not' cover flood damage.
"[Flood damage] is not covered by your homeowners. This is a completely separate policy," said Cheryl Nugent of the National Flood Insurance Program.
It is estimated that 5.6 million Americans have flood insurance, mostly through the National Flood Insurance program run by FEMA. But in recent years, insurance managers said many people have dropped their plans opting to avoid the one year lump sum flood insurance payment.
"Flood insurance is all at once and with the today's economy and everything, that makes it that much more tough,” said Nugent.
Industry analysts believe Superstorm Sandy could cost the insurance industry between $7 billion and $15 billion. However experts say those costs will not be passed down to NC flood insurance policy holders.
Instead, Sandy's long term insurance impact could change what areas are deemed low or high risk flood zones. That can impact how much money homeowners would pay for policies.
"They may go over the areas that did have problems and remap eventually, considering that this may be a high risk area,” said Nugent.
Flood insurance agents also remind new policy holders that there is a 30-day waiting period, so people are not able to start a claim if an impending storm is a few days from hitting landfall.
In the National Flood Insurance Program, the maximum claim is $250,000 for building coverage and $100,000 for property inside. Flood insurance policies in North Carolina begin at $119 dollars annually.