Awareness of flood risk is surprisingly low, particularly for those in high-risk zones. Less than 50% of those living in high-risk areas said they are familiar with flood insurance.

Awareness of flood risk is surprisingly low, particularly for those in high-risk zones. Less than 50% of those living in high-risk areas said they are familiar with flood insurance.

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

BOULDER – Boulder County is characterized by its dry climate, so flood risks to homes may not be at the forefront of residents’ minds. Even so, the area is not immune to potential flooding dangers and homeowners and potential homeowners will benefit from being aware of and preparing for the risk of flooding.

Boulder County is vulnerable to stream and creek flooding, as well as flash floods, making our homes susceptible to these natural disasters, often triggered by slow-moving thunderstorms or recurrent storms over the same locale, according to the Boulder County website, BoulderCounty.gov. And, of course, we vividly recall the catastrophic events of the 2013 Front Range flood, which sadly resulted in eight lives lost – most in Boulder County – and extensive damage to both residential and commercial properties, as well as critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, creeks, and open spaces, reports BoulderCast.com.

But if flood risk is not something you’ve thought about recently, you’re not alone. A national flood survey conducted by Fannie Mae in 2020 found a lack of awareness of flood risk among homeowners and renters, despite having had personal experiences with flooding. Awareness of flood risk is surprisingly low, particularly for those in high-risk zones. Less than 50% of those living in high-risk areas said they are familiar with flood insurance. 

Among respondents in medium-risk zones, only 26% reported being familiar with flood insurance and coverage for their homes. The survey also highlighted growing concerns about the escalating costs of flood insurance, with 43% expressing heightened anxiety about premium increases in 2022 compared to 31% in 2020. Notably, around 20% of respondents reported significant increases in their homeowners’ insurance premiums. Concerns include the impact of the expense of flood insurance on affordability and the perceived increasing risk of flooding due to more frequent extreme weather. 

Consumers want information about their current risk, and flood disclosures could help. According to Fannie Mae, real estate agents were cited as the most popular source to inform potential buyers about the risks associated with various zones. While many states have flood disclosure laws, the effectiveness of these measures varies widely, ranging from best to better, adequate, inadequate to none. Colorado has a ‘C’ rating, ranked as an adequate level of disclosure, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council. 

Some consumers are taking proactive steps to learn about and minimize flood risks although they commonly cite difficulties in finding relevant information. The top three sources of information reported by respondents include community flood maps, FEMA’s website, and local community and government websites.

Experts recommend that homeowners check their flood insurance policies and ensure their coverage is adequate. The best advice is to stay informed and stay prepared.

For more insights into the 2022 Consumer Flood Risk Awareness and Insurance Study, interested readers can access the full report at fanniemae.com/research-and-insights/perspectives/challenges-remain-raising-consumer-awareness-flood-risk. 

Get more information on flood disclosure rankings by state at nrdc.org/resources/how-states-stack-flood-disclosure.

By Tom Kalinski. Tom is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in commercial and residential real estate. For questions, e-mail Tom at [email protected], call 303.441.5620 or visit boulderco.com.