HAMPTON, Va. -- Nearly 66,000 Virginians in 258 communities have flood insurance on their property, according to statistics available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in Washington, D.C. In the aftermath of the flooding caused by Hurricanes Dennis, Floyd and Irene, many are thankful that they do.
Others, though, may wish that they did have flood insurance. They are discovering that the typical homeowner's policy does not cover flood damage.
Federal Insurance Administrator Jo Ann Howard, who manages the NFIP, estimates that only one in four homeowners who live in a floodplain have flood insurance.
"I strongly urge those who don't have a flood insurance policy to buy one before the next flood," Howard said. "You can recover so much faster and more completely when you have flood insurance."
According to Tom Davies, federal coordinating officer for Hurricane Floyd recovery activities in Virginia, "Flooding is the leading cause of property loss from natural disasters in this country. It's unfortunate to see flood victims shouldering losses that could have been covered by insurance."
Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program is available to residents and business in communities that have agreed to adopt and enforce floodplain management practices to reduce future flood damage.
For a single family home, coverage is available up to a maximum of $250,000 on the structure and up to $100,000 on contents. For small business owners, the maximum is $500,000 on the building and another $500,000 on the contents. Renters may purchase up to $100,000 for personal belongings.
An average flood insurance policy for a home in a flood hazard area costs about $595 a year for $100,000 in coverage. Policies cost much less outside the special flood hazard areas--sometimes as little as about $200 a year.
NFIP coverage is sold through private insurance companies and agents and is backed by the federal government. Check with any insurance agent who is licensed to sell property and casualty insurance. For more information, contact a local agent or company or call the National Flood Insurance Program toll-free numbers, 1-800-720-1090 or 1-800-427-4661.
Things to Keep in Mind about Flood Insurance
During the life of a 30-year mortgage, there is a one percent chance that a house will be damaged by fire; there is a 26 percent chance that a house will be flooded if it is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
Federal disaster assistance for flood victims is available only if the president declares a disaster. In those cases, the average disaster recovery grant is about $2,500. Other assistance often comes in the forms of loans that must be repaid.
More than 90 percent of all disasters in the United States are not presidentially declared. Flood insurance, which can cover the structure and the structure's contents, pays whether the disaster is presidentially declared or not.
Flood damage does not occur only in high-risk flood zones. About 35 percent of all flood insurance claims come from low-to-moderate-risk areas. The flooding following Hurricane Floyd has largely been outside of high-risk flood areas.
A floodplain is any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source.
A Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is an area with a one percent chance of being flooded in any given year. Hence, the area is in the 100-year floodplain.
A flood is defined as a general and temporary condition or partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from one of the following four sources:
The overflow of inland or tidal waters.
The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.
Mudslides which are proximately caused by floods, as defined above, and that are akin to a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surface of norm...