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    Flood Maps Delayed One Year

    Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

    Wed, Mar 05, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

    Proposed FEMA flood map changes for Plymouth County were recently delayed for a year so FEMA may review the methodology of the flood mapping. The proposed FEMA maps were rolled out in 2013 and were expected to be adopted by communities in 2014. The new maps were intended to model coastal flooding more accurately. Without a doubt, the new maps made quite a splash in Marshfield, Duxbury, and Scituate. In these towns, nearly two thousand homes that were not located in a special flood hazard zone A or V would be remapped into special hazard zones if the new maps were adopted. The new maps were proposed to be adopted by June, 2014.Learn about MA flood maps with andrew g gordon inc insurance

    Many properties currently in a special flood hazard zone would face significant changes in their base flood elevations under the new maps. In some instances, the base flood was raising from 9  to 17 feet elevation. This is the elevation that the property elevation is measured and rated relative to the FEMA base flood elevation.

    The primary reasons for postponing the map adoption were the many questions surrounding the science used for the flood mapping. In a nutshell, many believe the FEMA map study was flawed. The towns of Marshfield and Scituate submitted appeals questioning how the maps were created. These towns also engaged consulting engineering firms to review the methodology. Further supporting their arguments was an analysis by the University of Massachusetts that indicates FEMA used wave models used for the Pacific rather than Atlantic Ocean.

    Local town officials in Scituate, Marshfield and Duxbury are optimistic that the towns have proven the new flood map deficiencies that must be addressed by FEMA. As a result, the homeowners newly zoned into a special hazard flood zone will not be required to secure flood insurance  in 2014.

    The town of Hingham in Plymouth county approved new flood maps in 2012, so they are facing a different scenario. Since then, town-hired engineers found numerous problems with the new maps, including incorrect wind speed data and topographical information. Therefore, Hingham officials are filing an appeal against the new Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps that added hundreds of homeowners into the flood zone in 2012. Although FEMA delayed map implementation in Plymouth county, there is uncertainty if the delay can be applied to Hingham after the maps have already been approved by the town.  Hingham plans to file this appeal by March 1 and hopes to have this decision before Oct 1. Stay tuned for further developments. 

    Learn more about flood insurance here.


    Tags: plymouth county, hazard zone, FEMA, flooding, Flood, maps, flood insurance

    Hurricane Awareness

    Posted by Ben Gordon

    Fri, Jun 21, 2013 @ 10:07 AM

    As of June 1, we have officially entered Hurricane Season, and we won’t be out of it until November 30, so there are a few things that you may want to keep in mind this season.


    Hurricane Keep your home safe in case of storms or hurricanes with homeowners from andrew g gordon inc

    First off, it’s helpful to know what’s what, so here’s a chart covering the different storms:

    What it’s called

    What defines it

    What to expect (for a well built home)

    Tropical Cyclone

    A rotating system of clouds and storms that originates over tropical waters.


    Tropical Depression

    A tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 38 mph or less

    Occasional snapped branches, damaged wind chimes.

    Tropical Storm

    A tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 39-73 mph

    Gusts may snap larger branches, possible mild damage to shingles and gutters.

    Category 1 Hurricane

    A tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 74-95 mph

    Large branches may snap.  Gutters, shingles, and shutters may be torn away.

    Category 2 Hurricane

    A tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 96-110 mph

    Major damage to the roof and its sides. Many trees may snap or be uprooted. Some roads blocked and near-total power loss for a few days to weeks.

    Category 3 Hurricane

    A tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 111-129 mph

    Major damage to roofs, gables, and sides of buildings.  Many roads blocked, electricity and power unavailable from days to weeks.

    Category 4 Hurricane

    A tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 131-156 mph

    Severe damage to exterior walls and roofs. Possible roof collapse. Most trees snapped or uprooted. Most of area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

    Category 5 Hurricane

    A tropical cyclone with sustained winds greater than 156 mph

    Possible destruction of entire house, with total roof and wall collapse.  Fallen trees and power lines will isolate whole neighborhoods.  Power outages will last for weeks or months.  Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

    Considering that we live in New England, we aren’t as likely to be hit by a high level storm as states farther south, but that may lull us into a false sense of security. Just because we PROBABLY won’t get hit with 156 mph winds, doesn’t mean the 95 mph winds won’t do serious damage.

    Stay safe during hurricane season with homeowners insurance from Andrew G Gordon IncSome things to be wary of:

    ·         Falling Trees – New England is full of large, broad leafed trees that, unlike that palms down south, are more likely to snap in high winds than bend and survive.  Downed trees can knock out power lines, block major roads, or damage your roof, patio, or car. Consider trimming trees back, especially if they are close to the house.

    ·         Pooling Water – The heavy rains associated with hurricanes will also accumulate and create large puddles or pools.  Around the yard, these may be fine, but if they build up next to your home, you may face water damage or flooding in your basement.  My own basement used to flood from regular summer showers, but we installed a French drain, which has done wonders.

    ·         Coastal Surges – If you live near the coast, or have a vacation home near the beach, you will want to watch out for storm surges, water that is forced by winds to create outrageous tides.  The damage incurred from the surge is covered under your flood, not wind, insurance.

    Flying Debris –The high winds will not only tear down trees, but also whip around random detritus. The aesthetic pebble paths or gravel driveways may bite you in the rump during a hurricane, and your exterior walls will look pox marked and torn up after the stones get hurled from a 100 mph gust. Soft mulch and asphalt may be a safer alternative to consider.

    If you suspect that you may lose power, or that your road may get blocked by trees, consider preparing an essentials kit well beforehand. You can put some of the following into your kit:

    • Extra batteries and flashlights
    • First aid kit
    • Cash (ATM’s may not be working)
    • Ample water (1 gallon per person per day)
    • Personal hygiene items
    • Non-perishable food
    • Pet supplies
    • Entertainment (board games, books, cards)

    Remember to keep up with the weather reports this season, and pay especially close attention if you hear a hurricane watch or warning, they demonstrate a 36 or 24 hour arrival time of the storm, respectively.

    INSURANCE QUESTION?  Hurricane Resources

    Ben Gordon

    Tags: tropical, irene, hurricane, preparation, hurricane season, bad weather, emergency kit, what to do hurricanes, chart, storm chart, different kind of storms, storm types, winds, wind damage, cyclone, depression, category, flooding, Flood, storm, rain, sandy

    Don't Get Hosed!

    Posted by Gordon Atlantic Staff

    Mon, Jul 09, 2012 @ 09:20 AM

    Maintain your washing machine hoses and cover your home with homeowners from andrew gordon inc insurance norwell ma

    When was the last time you checked your washing machine hoses? If you’re like most, this is a task that is frequently  overlooked. Since they are barely visible (located behind the washing machine), it’s out of sight, out of mind. The same holds true for dishwashing hoses. According to State Farm Insurance Statistics, washing machine hose failures cause approximately $170 million in damages to homes in the United States & Canada.

    Washing machine hoses hold 70 pounds of pressure. The rubber hoses weaken with age and do eventually burst if not replaced.  In some cases, the hose connections can start to leak, giving an advanced warning sign. In other cases, there are no advance warnings and a sudden burst results. A bursting hose can displace 650 gallons of water per hour. If your home is unoccupied for 30 hours, this equates to 20,000 gallons – the average size of an inground swimming pool!

    Protect your home by maintaing your hoses and with homeowners from andrew gordon inc insurance norwell ma

    There are some preventative measures that you can take, some better than others.

    • Visibly check your hoses and their connections on a regular basis. Inspect for bulging hoses and corroding connections.
    • Shut off both supply valves to the hot & cold water, when not in use. . This is only as good as your memory to turn the valves off, each time you have finished using the washing machine.
    • Install a Universal shut off valve. One lever at the water supply shuts off water to both the hot & cold hoses. . Again, this is only as good as your memory to pull the lever off, each time you have finished using the washing machine.
    • Replace the rubber hoses with ‘No-Burst’ hoses.  These hoses are reinforced with steel braiding and prevents bursting. However, these are not lifetime replacements. They can still wear out, especially at the connections.
    • Invest in a washing machine leak alarm, like this Washing Machine FloodStop. This device installs between the water supply and the washing machine hoses. It is connected to a sensor located at the bottom of the washing machine. If water is detected on your floor, the device automatically shuts off the water supply and an alarm is sounded. The average cost is $150… a great investment, I might add!

    Remember, using one or more of the above measures can save you a lot of time, money and heart-ache!

      Top 10 Things to Know about Homeowner's Insurance  

    Tags: home, damage, insurance, hose, leak, burst, washing machine, dishwasher, homeowners, flooding, Flood, water

    National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorized by Congress

    Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

    Fri, Jul 06, 2012 @ 10:48 AM

    Last Friday (June 29) Congress overwhelmingly passed an extension of the federally underwritten National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), with the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012. Passing the bill was part of a broader effort by Congress to fund Transportation spending, student loans, and other deadline provisions before the end of June. President Obama has signed the bill.

    Understand the national flood insurance program with andrew gordon inc norwell maWhat does the bill do?

    The bill makes several important changes to the federally underwritten flood insurance program that will affect over 5.5 million policyholders. The most important is a 5-year extension of its authority, after six temporary extensions over the past two years. These temporary extensions missed renewal deadlines several times, creating uncertainty in the real estate market including delayed property closings. This extension for five years will return some predictability to the market, particularly on the coast and along the Mississippi flood plains where lenders require flood insurance protection.

    How will the bill work?

    A stated objective has been to reduce the exposure taxpayers have to major flooding events through adoption of more actuarially supported rates. After Hurricane Katrina, the National Flood Insurance Program went $18 billion into the red, and has owed this to the Treasury since then. Paying that back is one goal; remaining self-supporting is another. To achieve this, the program will phase in rates that more closely match exposures. Matching rates to risk is routine with for-profit companies, but subsidies have been in place for years to promote coastal real estate development and to support an insurance market where private carriers cannot achieve adequate ‘spread of risk’. These subsidies will be reduced. In one step to make rates more scientific the bill requires the NFIP to create a technical mapping advisory council to take advantage of mapping technology strides already embraced by the private insurance industry.

    Cover your home with flood insurance from andrew gordon inc norwell ma

    How will new costs transition in?

    The bill will reduce subsidies built into the previous models by degrees. Rate increases are targeted especially at secondary homes (vacation homes), so if you have a beach house as a vacation home, your rate increases will be higher than folks who live near the shore full time. The bill also provides for relocation of homes with repetitive claims; it doesn’t make sense to keep rebuilding homes in places that flood regularly. Businesses will also be subject to non-subsidized rates sooner.  And Flood map changes will likely put many homeowners into zones that were previously not considered in the 100-year flood plain.  Rate increases, formerly capped at 10% per year will be allowed to rise 25% annually to achieve this projected financial stability, 20% for those affected purely by flood map changes. 

    Flood insurance costs will skip the transition step  (go to full new rates) if:

    • You buy a new home
    • you let your policy lapse or cancel 

    Any new features?

    There are provisions that affect commercial properties as well. Multi-family properties will soon be eligible to obtain NFIP protection. The bill also calls for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the impact of adding business interruption and additional living expenses to commercial risks, coverage that is considered important, and routinely included, on non-flood commercial policies.  

    Any old features being eliminated?

    Grandfathering is out.  It used to be that if you bought a house from someone who had secured a highly subsidized rate from the early days of the program, you could transfer the policy from seller to buyer.  No more.  No transition applies to these transactions either, meaning the new rate is in effect immediately upon a building purchase.

    What does the future hold?

    Extending stability to the program is a good step, and a trend toward risk-based pricing is long overdue. Some homeowners will see rates rise, especially on secondary homes or homes with repeated claims.  But a return to a self-supporting program was an important goal for Congress, and the bill appears to include what it will take to do that.  

    A more recent blog on Biggert-Waters appears here

    If you're looking for insurance along the coast or just want to learn more, check us out at


    Geoff Gordon

    Tags: change, insurance, flooding, congress, Flood, nfip, zone, Biggert Waters Act, national flood insurance program changes

    Congress Extends National Flood Insurance Program to Spring 2012

    Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

    Wed, Dec 28, 2011 @ 02:56 PM

    Cover your home with homeowners from Andrew Gordon Inc Inusrance Norwell MAPresident Obama signed a bill authorizing the continuation of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on December 23 extending the program to May 31, 2012. This was the sixth last minute extension of the program in the past year and a half, though Congress has worked hard over the past year to pass a 5-year extension with several structural changes.

    The NFIP has been around for decades and today is the primary vehicle for providing insurance for about 5.5 million property owners around the country.  Locally, many homes in eastern and southern Massachusetts are insured by or have been rebuilt with NFIP insurance.

    In July, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill (HR 1309) that would have made fundamental changes to the program that provides flood insurance to businesses and families around the country. Proposed changes included a gradual path to removing taxpayer subsidies, and put the program on a sustainable footing. But these changes met resistance in the Senate, where the bill died.

    The existing program is in trouble. A lingering debt of $18 billion remains on the books from 2005; and big spring rains or a 2012 hurricane could increase that shortfall without notice. 

    Conceptually the National Flood Insurance Program makes sense: private insurers don’t want to insure against geographically concentrated losses because of an insurance concept known as ‘spread of risk’. The national government can withstand concentrated losses by spreading risks across the entire country. The problem is that the current rates are not developed with the same detail as private insurers do when trying to make a profit.  As an example, in 2006, the year after over $17 billion in losses from Hurricane Katrina, average NFIP rates actually went down.

    Subsidized pricing also leads to a problem known as ‘adverse selection’: flood insurance is a great deal if you’re really near the water; it’s not a great deal if you’re only mildly exposed to flood waters. Pressure from interest groups such as builders, developers, realtors and property owners delivers a political angle that prefers the status quo.  However these groups also generally agree that continued temporary extensions can be disruptive as well. State Farm, one of the country’s largest providers for homeowners insurance, dropped out of participation in NFIP in June 2010 in large part due to frustration over frequent temporary extensions.

    We were optimistic for long term sustainability over the summer when the House passed its 5-year bill, but are less optimistic today. Congress has been unable to develop a program acceptable to both the House and the Senate over the past year in spite of its structural problems.  We believe now that the program will continue with temporary extensions and without change until after November 2012 elections, or until after the next big hurricane or other flooding disaster puts the program deeper in debt. Given the extension until May 31, we can be grateful that home closings won’t be delayed by the absence of insurance, at least until then. 

    Learn more about homeowners insurance here.

      INSURANCE QUESTION? Home Quote Request
    Geoff Gordon

    Politics trumps Economics as Congress extends National Flood Insurance Program to Spring 2012 without Changes

    Tags: home, insurance, adverse selection, national flood program, homeowners, flooding, Flood, nfip

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