Flood Insurance: Fact vs Fiction

By Shaunda Rauch on October 17, 2013 from Emergency Services Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. A flood is a “general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow”. Many conditions can result in a flood: hurricanes, overtopped levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall.  West Virginia has a long history of flash flood episodes that have taken lives, property and peace of mind from our residents.  It’s important to understand your risk and options for protecting your family and home. 
Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future. Flood risk isn't just based on history; it's also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.
The National Flood Insurance Program has created Flood-hazard maps to show different degrees of risk for each community, which help determine the cost of flood insurance. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium.  Following the August 28th flash flood, I spoke with many residents about their damages, flood history and insurance coverage.  One theme that was repeated over and over was that the homeowners believed that they could not purchase flood insurance because they were not in a designated floodplain.  Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. From 2008 to 2012, the average residential flood claim amounted to more than $30,000. Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself from devastating financial loss.
FloodSmart.gov is an excellent tool for learning about your flood risk and tools for helping to determine your flood insurance needs.  Below are some basic facts from this on-line resource:  
You Should Know Your Flood Risk To Understand Your Insurance Needs.
  • Floods can happen anywhere, at any time. Residents who live in and outside of a high-risk area should know their risk, and consider protection.  
  • Even if you live outside the high-risk zone, and are not required by law to purchase flood insurance, you are still at risk for flooding and should consider flood insurance. Flooding is not typically covered by homeowners insurance.
  • It is important to know that if you have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender on a home located in a high-risk area, federal law requires you to purchase flood insurance. Also, if you’ve received a federal grant or loan for previous flood losses, you must have a flood policy to qualify for future aid.
The national flood insurance program helps reduce flood losses by providing affordable flood insurance to property owners.
  • As long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you are eligible to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and agents, and it is backed by the federal government. Unlike most standard homeowner’s policies, flood insurance covers losses to your property caused by flooding.
  • When you purchase a flood insurance policy, there’s typically a 30-day waiting period for coverage to become effective.  Don’t wait until a storm threatens your property.  It could be too late!  The exception to the 30-day wait rule is that if insurance is a requirement of a loan upon closing, the 30-day wait will be waived.
  • Flood insurance covers damage up to $250,000 for your building and up to $100,000 if you purchase contents coverage. Contents coverage is not automatically included in a standard flood policy. For businesses, flood insurance covers damage up to $500,000 for your building and up to $500,000 if you purchase contents coverage. Policies are available in three forms: Dwelling (homes and individual condominium units), General Property (other residential buildings (apartments, etc.) and businesses) and the Residential Condominium Building Association Policy Form (residential condominium buildings). Renters are also eligible to purchase a flood insurance policy.
  • For properties located in moderate-to-low risk flood zones, a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy can start as low as $129 a year for both building and contents coverage.
For more information:
  • Contact your insurance agent to help you decide what kind of flood protection is best for you.
  • Visit FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 to learn how to prepare for floods, how to purchase a flood insurance policy and what the benefits are of protecting your home or property investment against flooding.   

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