The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) is reminding homeowners that warmer temperatures not only signal the coming of spring, but they also contribute to snowmelts, which increases the risk of flooding in some parts of the country. Hence, there is no better time than now to review your flood insurance to ensure you are adequately covered against flood-related damage.
No region of the U.S. is immune from floods, including inland flooding, flash floods and seasonal storms. In fact, over 20 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in low-to-moderate flood-risk areas. However, specific parts of nine U.S. states are especially vulnerable to flooding in the spring of 2007, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) weather service. In these geographic areas there is either a high soil moisture level or an above normal snowfall over the winter months that is now melting. These regions include:
· Southeastern Colorado
· Northern Illinois
· Eastern Iowa
· Southeastern Minnesota
· Southwestern New York
· Northeastern Ohio
· Northwestern Pennsylvania
· Eastern South Dakota
· Southern Wisconsin
The I.I.I. is advising residents in these areas to be especially vigilant about their flood insurance coverage. It is also recommending that even if you don’t live in one of these locations, you should still consider purchasing flood insurance because 90 percent of all natural disasters in the U.S. involve some type of flooding. There is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance policies to take effect, so it is imperative to apply before the season gets under way.
The agency has established the following points for homeowners to consider if they are thinking about buying flood insurance:
§ Standard homeowner’s and renter’s insurance does not cover flood damage: Only a flood insurance policy, available to homeowners and renters through the federal government, will cover flood-related losses.
§ Flood insurance is easy to purchase: Federal flood insurance policies can be purchased directly from an insurance agent, and are available to communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Nearly 100 insurance companies write and service NFIP policies.
§ Flood insurance is affordable: The annual premium for a residential NFIP policy starts at $112 per year, according to FEMA, and increases according to the level of flood risk and amount of coverage needed. The maximum coverage amount is $250,000 for the structure of the home and $100,000 for its contents.
§ It is easy to assess your flood risk: More than 20,000 communities in all 50 U.S. states and territories voluntarily participate in the NFIP, encompassing nearly all properties in the nation’s high-risk flood zones. Enter your address at http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/riskassesment/findpropertyform.jsp to determine your level of flood risk.
§ Excess flood insurance policies add an extra layer of coverage: A growing number of private insurers have begun offering excess flood policies, intended to provide water damage protection to homeowners over and above the limits provided by the NFIP policies.
§ Without insurance, relief from floods primarily comes in the form of loans: If your community is declared a disaster area, no-interest or low-interest loans are usually made available by the federal government as part of the recovery effort. These loans are just that—loans—and must be paid back. Obtaining a flood insurance policy is the only way to protect yourself fully from the cost of flooding.