All Floods Are Not Alike

All Floods Are Not Alike

October 8, 2019 Business Insurance and Risk Management, The Beacon Blog 0 Comments

Although it may seem that floods only differ in size and intensity, according to Helen Smith of JBA this is not the case. In an Insurance Thought Leadership post ( she describes the types and differing affects:

  • Fluvial flooding is when rivers (and smaller streams) overflow their banks. (Don’t discount the potential damage from small streams. In 2001 I witnessed how heavy rains caused a small stream in Fort Washington, PA to flood the entire area making the first floor of the building where I worked unusable for months.)
  • Pluvial flooding is the result of heavy rains (the flood in Genesis is an example). Typically these floods recede quickly and are cleaner than other types. (Although not mentioned by Smith, these floods could also result in mudslides making cleanup more difficult.)
  • Storm surge flooding results from higher sea levels and coastal storms. Saline water makes storm surge flooding extremely damaging.

The same location can be exposed to more than one type of flood, sometimes from the same event. For low lying coastal areas near rivers, a tropical storm with heavy rain and high winds could result in all three types – literally a “perfect storm”.

Present FEMA maps do not provide a complete picture of flood risk, or the interactions between the different types of flood. Organizations need as much information as possible to analyze their flood risk. In case of doubt, they need to include floods and their consequences in disaster planning, and purchase flood insurance as a backup.

About the Author

Harry Cylinder

Harry Cylinder, CPCU, ARM has spent nearly fifty years in the insurance industry, the majority of the time as a consultant. He has been employed by The Beacon Group of Companies since 2008, specializing in the review and analysis of property and casualty coverage forms. Mr. Cylinder has been reviewing policy forms as they have evolved over the past decades. In 2008 he published an article in the CPCU Journal which was the first description of cyber insurance coverage for a general insurance audience. Since that time he has regularly written on cyber and other topics for The Beacon Companies’ blog.