SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Although disaster recovery assistance programs are important in helping flood survivors get back on their feet, there is no substitute for the broad-ranging benefits of flood insurance now available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood insurance goes much further in rebuilding lives and homes after a disaster.
"The smartest thing any property owner can do is to insure themselves against future losses from floods by purchasing flood insurance," said Federal Coordinating Officer Robert E. Hendrix of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "It's one of the wisest investments you can make in protecting against the loss of homes and property in the future."
"Flood insurance can provide financial relief from flood damages to both buildings and contents," reminded State Coordinating Officer Ed Laundy of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (DEM). "Flood insurance can be very inexpensive and we urge the public to contact their insurance agent for coverage."
The National Flood Insurance Program was enacted in 1968 to provide flood insurance for all structures in communities that agree to regulate building in their floodplain areas. Before Congress adopted the program, many communities allowed flood-damaged property to be rebuilt repeatedly in the same flood-prone areas without any attempt to reduce the risk of future flooding.
Individuals whose property was affected by the recent flooding and who live in special flood hazard areas designated by FEMA must purchase flood insurance if they decide to rebuild in the same area. If the community in which they live or own property participates in the federal NFIP, they will be able to purchase flood insurance and obtain federally underwritten loans or mortgages to rebuild or repair flood-damaged property.
People can contact their local government to see if their community participates in the NFIP and to learn if their property is located in a special flood hazard zone. Anyone, no matter where they live, can purchase flood insurance. Since standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, people need to purchase flood insurance separately.
"People don't have to live in a flood zone to get flooded," said Hendrix. "Flood insurance also is available for secondary homes and rental properties."
Flood insurance is required by federally regulated or insured lending institutions before they grant loans. Structures rebuilt to NFIP new-construction standards are less subject to flood damage and are eligible for reduced rates.
Flood insurance covers the contents of buildings, and renters should consider buying their own policy for their furniture and other personal belongings. Homeowners also should carry coverage for contents.
"Flood insurance not only protects its policy holders, it saves taxpayers millions of dollars when floods hit a community," noted Hendrix. "The actual payouts to flood victims comes from insurance premiums paid by policy holders, not the federal taxpayer."
Anyone interested in more information about flood insurance can call their insurance agent or call the NFIP toll-free number, 1-800-427-4661 (TTY 1-800-427-5593).