ST CROIX, V.I. -- Flood insurance is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against that cost of flood damage, according to disaster recovery officials.
Flood insurance, backed by the federal government, is available to any homeowner, renter or business owner whose property is in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In order to participate, the community must adopt and enforce local floodplain management ordinances designed to reduce the risk of future flood losses. The Virgin Islands is a NFIP participant, so flood insurance can be purchased from any licensed insurance agent or company.
Today, there are 2,011 flood insurance policies in effect in the Virgin Islands. Many more households and businesses could benefit from the protection that flood insurance provides. Flood insurance can be purchased from any licensed insurance agent or company. There is a 30-day waiting period before new policies can take effect.
Premiums vary according to the flood risk the property is exposed to, the amount of coverage purchased, the deductible and the type of building insured. In the Virgin Islands, the average premium is $596.24 per year, but the majority of those policies are for condominiums or commercial properties.
On a single-family home, flood insurance coverage can be purchased for up to a maximum of $250,000 on the structure and up to $100,000 on the contents. For businesses, the maximum coverage is $500,000 on the building and another 500,000 on contents. Renters can purchase up to $100,000 coverage for personal belongings.
More than 90 percent of disasters are not presidentially declared. In the majority of floods, victims are on their own-unless they have flood insurance. And even for floods that are declared major disasters, most of the assistance is in the form of loans that must be repaid with interest.
Even if a neighborhood is not in a floodplain, flood insurance is advisable. Floods occur almost anywhere. Nearly 25 percent of all NFIP claims come from properties considered to be in areas at low or moderate risk.
The NFIP toll-free number is 1-800-427-4661.