A new flood modeling tool that was released on Monday, June 29, 2020, suggests that Columbus, Ohio has nearly triple the number of properties at risk of flooding than are currently reflected on federal flood-plain maps. Further, the tool reflects the U.S. as a country that is severely under-prepared for damaging floods, both now and in the future.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, “the federal government’s best efforts to predict where flooding will strike have underestimated the risk to nearly 6 million homes and commercial properties primarily located in the nation’s interior, leaving them unprepared for potential devastation.”

In Columbus, alone, the new models suggests there are 10,053 homes and other structures that fall into the substantial risk category, meaning they face a 1% annual risk of flooding. However, the current Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) model only places 3,789 properties in the city at risk level.

For the entire state of Ohio, the new model suggests that there are more than double the number of properties at risk than what has been recorded by FEMA.

This new analysis that was conducted by the First Street Foundation also suggests that conditions are getting worse with an increase of 1.6 million properties at a 1% annual risk of flooding by 2050. Franklin County is predicted to have an additional 2,000 properties in the high-risk category and 26,671 across the State of Ohio by 2050.

Why Does This Discrepancy Matter?

It’s important that the FEMA map accurately reflects the risk of flooding, as it’s used for a variety of reasons. The federal government uses the FEMA map to determine whether homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance, local and county planners use it to determine which areas are safe to develop and it’s used to determine plans for long-term development – like roads.

Why This Discrepancy Is Not Surprising

Many flood experts say the discrepancy between the two models isn’t surprising, given the limitations in FEMA’s calculations. FEMA is stretched thin, struggling to keep its flood maps up-to-date, particularly for inland areas that are perceived to be less vulnerable than the coasts.

In addition, FEMA also looks back at historical data to assess where flooding could strike next; leaving out current and future models that assess where risk might exist or be growing. With emerging weather patterns, historical weather data is becoming less reliable.

However, both models can be used, as FEMA’s maps and First Street’s model depict different kinds of risk and serve different purposes, said FEMA press secretary Lizzie Litzow. FEMA’s maps remain the backbone of effective flood plain management, as these maps have helped avoid over $100 billion in losses over the last 40 years. However, First Street’s Flood Factor Tool can be used to help inform a property owner of flood risks, and can aid in the decision of whether to buy flood insurance.

What Does This Mean for You?

Federal law mandates that all federal or federally related financial assistance for buying or constructing a building in high-risk flood areas be covered by flood insurance. That means any federally-insured bank or lender will require you to purchase flood insurance if you’re in an area more likely to be flooded.

Property owners in low-to-moderate risk areas aren’t completely off the hook, though. Federal law may not require flood insurance, but lenders may make that call on their own because floods can happen anywhere that has rain and about a quarter of all flood claims come from outside of high-risk areas. Your home is collateral for your mortgage, so if it’s damaged or destroyed in a flood, the lender can take a big financial hit. They typically don’t like to take that risk, so they’ll often require you to purchase flood insurance to get a home loan.

Things can always change, too. If during the life of a mortgage a flood plain map is revised, which may be the case with First Street’s new tool, your lender may call you up and say you now are in a high-risk area and must purchase flood insurance.

Property owners who live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), or high-risk area, that have received federal disaster assistance in the form of a federal grant or loan in the past for flood damage are required to have flood insurance for as long as they own the building. If they sell it, they have to tell the buyer about the need to purchase and maintain flood insurance. Not having the required coverage could mean no federal disaster assistance in the event of future damage.

But not all sellers need to disclose flood risks or past flood damage — only those who have received federal disaster assistance in a high-risk area. So if you’re buying a house, don’t automatically assume the seller or agent will tell you about past flood damage or flood zone designation.

Do I Need to Purchase Flood Insurance?

Many Ohioans believe coverage for losses caused by flood are covered under their homeowners, renters, or condo insurance policy… unfortunately, they’re not. Losses caused by a flood are customarily excluded on these policies.

You may be required to have separate Flood Insurance above the water damage coverage in your homeowners or renters policy.

For most people, this is not a major concern. How likely is Ohio to have a flood, right? But who expects to have a loss of any type? Most people don’t plan on having a loss and filing a claim under their insurance policy. However, when a loss does occur, even a flood loss, you don’t want to be on the hook for the entire loss amount.

Luckily, flood insurance is available in the State of Ohio. The state is divided into floodplains (essentially, how likely a certain area is to flood), and those areas more prone to flood are likely to purchase flood insurance. However, the Ohio Insurance Institute estimates that only 10% of the structures in Ohio’s floodplains are protected by flood insurance.

Tip. Find out what floodplain you’re in. Many people don’t realize how susceptible their property is to flood, and remember, we’re all in a flood zone.

If you determine you need flood insurance, there are several options available to you:

  • Coverage for homeowners to protect their house and their personal property.
  • Coverage for renters so they can protect their personal property.
  • Condominium unit owners can purchase coverage to protect their condo and their contents (but check your condo contract, your association might already have purchased flood coverage)

Flood insurance is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program so there are standard restrictions and guidelines when it comes to purchasing a policy. Make sure you talk to an experienced insurance agent that can help you purchase the policy that’s best for you.

Note. Flood insurance is not cheap. The ultimate cost will depend on the amount of coverage you need, but keep in mind, flood losses tend to be fairly large. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, the average claim amount is $29,011.

It’s worth noting, the National Flood Insurance Program estimates that 90% of all natural disasters involve flooding so it’s certainly a coverage to consider when reviewing your overall protection.

If you would like to speak with one of our licensed advisors about possibly adding a flood policy to your insurance program, we’re here to help!

To learn more about your insurance protection, visit our Resource Center.

Tom Simon

Tom Simon

Chairman of the Board

Tom has worked in the insurance industry since 1977 holding numerous positions from Account Executive and Agency Manager, President to his current role. He combines his unique ability of thinking differently with his wealth of insurance and business experience to propel CoverLink to new levels of success.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, especially his grandkids. In addition, he’s also an avid woodsman… yes, you read that correctly. He can often be found yelling “timber” or just splitting firewood for family and friends.

 

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Matt Simon

President

Prior to joining the team at CoverLink in 2006, Matt worked as an Underwriter with a multi-state insurance company located in Columbus, Ohio. Matt is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), having successfully completed the rigorous coursework and exams to earn these designations.

He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Insurance Agents Association and the Associated Risk Managers of Ohio, in addition to volunteering his time to multiple other community and industry organizations.

In 2013, Matt was awarded and recognized as the National Young Insurance Agent of the Year, and in 2019 he was recognized as the Insurance Advisor of the year by Finance Monthly.

 

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Gina Loehr

Gina Loehr

Senior Account Manager

Gina oversees the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink, which is responsible for managing the business insurance needs for clients.

She has worked in the insurance industry since 1980, beginning as a Commercial Underwriter with a regional company located in Springfield, Ohio.

In 1984, she earned her Certificate in General Insurance, and in 1995, her Accredited Advisor of Insurance designation.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including four grandkids, and biking.

 

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Kyle Carper

Account Manager

Kyle joined the CoverLink team in 2018 as in intern when he was a junior in high school. Shortly after, he began studying to obtain his insurance license, which he passed in 2020 and joined our Personal Lines division.

Kyle helps individuals and families with their home, auto, umbrella and other personal insurance needs, which he thoroughly enjoys.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with the ones he loves, watching sports and playing video games.

 

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Tim O’Rielley

Senior Insurance Advisor

Tim works with individuals, families and businesses to design insurance policies perfectly suited to their specific needs.

He has been working in the insurance industry, and with CoverLink, since 1993. As a lifelong resident of Logan County, he’s been involved with a number of community organizations, often taking the leadership role such as President of the Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way.

He’s often found spending as much time as possible with his two daughters, and his grandkids

 

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Mark Osborne

Account Executive

Mark has worked at CoverLink since 2004. He specializes in life and health insurance, where he utilizes his extensive knowledge to help clients make sense of a confusing and ever changing market.

He also holds the Property & Casualty Insurance License, and often helps families as well as small businesses to set up their insurance protection plan.

Mark graciously volunteers his time to several community organizations, and enjoys spending his free time with his family

 

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Leah Loehr

Account Manager

Leah joined the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink in 2012 where she works closely with business owners on their Commercial Insurance needs to help them achieve their desired level of protection.

Leah is known for her outgoing personality, positive attitude, and relentless pursuit of the goals she sets out to achieve. Clients often rave about her and the service she provides.

In her spare time, Leah enjoys spending time with her family and friends… and she can often be found at the closest Buffalo Wild Wings!

 

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Larry Middaugh

Larry Middaugh, PLCS

Senior Insurance Advisor

Larry joined CoverLink with an extensive background in sales, bringing over 30 years of experience and commitment to taking care of his clients in the banking and mortgage industry.

Larry’s dedication to his clients aligned so well with the CoverLink tradition of relentlessly caring for, and protecting its clients, that he joined the team of Licensed Insurance Advisors in 2015.

Those in need of Personal or Business Insurance are delighted after working with Larry.

Larry defines success as knowing his purpose in life, continuing to grow to reach his fullest potential and sowing seeds that benefit others. He’s a father of three incredible children and husband to an amazing, kind and loving wife.

 

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Tony Fink

Tony Fink, CIC, CLCS

Insurance Advisor

Tony is responsible for serving the needs of individuals and businesses looking for property & casualty insurance. In addition, he’s licensed and capable of advising clients that desire life insurance protection.

He’s a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS), having successfully completed the rigorous coursework and exams to earn these designations.

Tony entered the insurance industry in 2008 bringing a diverse background of experience and knowledge to his Account Executive position with CoverLink.

In his free time, Tony enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors, following sports and listening to music.

 

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Meg Barton

Meg Barton

Senior Account Manager

Meg works in the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink as an Account Manager, where she helps businesses with their varying & complex insurance needs, from Business Auto to Commercial Liability, Directors & Officers to Commercial Property.

Meg earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Urbana University in Ohio. She has been active in the insurance industry since 2006, and is an Ohio Notary.

In her spare time, Meg enjoys spending time with her family at Indian Lake, listening to live music and reading.

 

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Jordan Springs

Jordan Springs

Account Manager

Jordan joined the CoverLink team in 2017, bringing top-notch client service skills acquired through several years in the banking industry.

She’s constantly assisting and advising clients on their personal insurance needs – home, auto, jewelry, umbrella and other policies – not to mention, she’s just plain fun to be around!

In her spare time, Jordan enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially her husband and two kids.

 

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Jill Rawlins

Jill Rawlins

Account Manager

Jill works in the Personal Lines Department where she helps individuals and families with their Home, Auto, Umbrella and other personal insurance needs.

She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in 2009 from Otterbein University, and shortly after began her career in the insurance industry.

In addition to holding the Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance License, she also has her Accident & Health, Life and Variable licenses.

Jill enjoys spending as much time as she can with her family, and especially enjoys being with her little girl who makes her laugh often.

 

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Chris Badenhop

Chris Badenhop

Insurance Advisor

Chris joined the CoverLink team in 2017 with a diverse and exciting professional and educational background. He works with individuals, families and businesses to find the ideal solution for their insurance needs.

He brings a positive attitude and a desire to help his clients in his position as an Insurance Advisor, but most importantly, he shares one of the most fundamental beliefs we hold dear within our organization: he cares. He cares about his clients, he cares about protecting all that’s important to them, and above all, he cares about doing what’s in the best interest of his clients. His enthusiasm and empathy set him apart, and he’s backed by the top-notch service provided at CoverLink, making him a tremendous asset to his clients. In short, Chris puts people before policies.

In his free time Chris enjoys spending time in the outdoors hunting and fishing. He’s also a passionate sports fan devoting support to all levels of play.

 

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Joe Cooney

Joe Cooney

Senior Insurance Advisor

When considering business insurance, contracts and requirements are often complex and confusing. As professional insurance agents, CoverLink is in a position to help. We’ll help you secure the right business insurance at the right price so you can enjoy the security and peace-of-mind you deserve, and spend time focusing on your business and not your insurance.

 

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Kelli Young

Kelli Young

Director of Marketing

Kelli brings extensive marketing expertise to CoverLink after spending nine years in the automotive industry, where she gained valuable insight in the areas of design, digital presence, and content creation.

After joining CoverLink in 2015, her focus has been on telling the story of our long standing belief, that people are more important than policies, in a fresh way with a digital twist, allowing consumers who believe what we believe to find us easier.

Kelli graduated from Ohio University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, and earned her Master’s Degree in Business from Ashland University in 2010.

She enjoys spending time with her family, especially being outside with her son and two daughters.

 

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Jami Radern

Jami Rader

Director of First Impressions

As the Director of First Impressions, Jami brings top-notch client service skills. She’s constantly assisting clients with billing inquiries, working to resolve any frustrating issues they’re having, and she’s just plain fun to be around!

In her spare time, Jami enjoys spending time with family, especially her husband and four children and going on four-wheeling trips together.

Erika Asher

Account Manager

Erika works in the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink as an Account Manager, where she helps businesses with their varying & complex insurance needs, from Business Auto to Commercial Liability, Directors & Officers to Commercial Property.

In her spare time, Erika enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her son.

 

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Erin Whitaker

Account Manager

Erin joined the Personal Lines division at CoverLink in 2019, as an Account Manager, where she helps individuals and families with their Home, Auto, Umbrella and other personal insurance.

She previously worked in the healthcare industry before getting her insurance license in November of 2018.

When Erin isn’t at work, you can find her cheering on her kids at various sporting events almost every day of the week. In addition, she enjoys planting flowers, finding rusty items to decorate with and spending as much time with her family as possible.

Alissa Grim

Alissa Grim

Account Manager

Alissa works as an Account Manager where she helps individuals and families find the insurance that best fits their needs.

In addition to earning her Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance license in 2008, Alissa received her Life Insurance License in 2010.

In her spare time, Alissa enjoys spending time with her family camping, and watching her son race go karts around the U.S.

Vickie Allen

Vickie Allen

Account Manager

Vickie has worked at CoverLink since 2000 helping clients with a diverse set of needs, from securing the coverage that’s best for their individual situation, to providing guidance when claims or billing questions arise.

Vickie currently holds the Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance License, and is well known to clients because of her infectious personality and radiant smile that greets them when visiting the office.

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

Randy Leopard

Randy Leopard

Vice President

Randy began his insurance career in 2000 working with both personal and business clients on their health insurance needs.  In 2008, he expanded his area of focus to include all types of insurance his clients needed from home & auto insurance, business insurance and farm insurance.

Randy resides in Urbana where he enjoys spending time with his family, and watching his horses race from time to time.

Melodi Wilkins

Melodi Wilkins

Senior Account Manager

Melodi has called CoverLink her ‘work home’ since 2009.  In her position as a Senior Account Manager, she works closely with clients needing home, condo, renters, auto, umbrella and other types of personal insurance coverage. Melodi also provides service and assistance to businesses regarding their insurance protection needs.

In her spare time, Melodi enjoys being outside and spending time with her family, especially with her granddaughter.

Morgan Edwards

Morgan Edwards

Account Manager

Morgan joined the CoverLink family in 2019, as an Account Manager. She helps her clients with personal insurance needs such as, home, condo, renters, auto umbrella and more. In addition, she works closely with business owners on their Commercial Insurance needs to help them achieve their desired level of protection.

In her spare time, Morgan enjoys spending time with her family and friends, making memories and enjoying all that life has to offer!

Sam Ankrom

Insurance Advisor

Sam joined the Coverlink team in 2020 with a strong passion and drive to help people. As an insurance Advisor with his Property & Casualty license, he assists individuals and business with all of their insurance needs.

He is dedicated to going above and beyond for his clients and wants to make sure every client is not only properly insured, but can also feel like a part of the Coverlink family. Sam is committed to helping everyone feel confident and comfortable with their insurance decisions and have the peace of mind knowing they are taken care of by not only himself, but by the entire Coverlink team.

Outside of work you can usually find Sam spending time with friends and family, or outside on the golf course.