Albany, NY -- Many New York homeowners and renters have discovered in recent years that flood damage is not covered by most homeowners' insurance policies. Flood insurance is the only way for homeowners to protect themselves against ruinous flood losses according to Marianne C. Jackson of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Since July 21, a total of 21 New York counties have been declared disaster areas because of severe storms and flooding, but the assistance available through FEMA and the New York State Emergency Management Office (NYSEMO) is, so far, limited to governments and private non-profit agencies.
"Every time there is a flood disaster in the United States, many homeowners are dismayed to learn that flood losses are not covered under the usual homeowners' or business insurance policies," Jackson said, "but flood insurance is available to anyone living in or owning property in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In New York, 98 percent of all communities participate in the program."
"It's too late to insure yourself against floods that have already happened," said Edward F. Jacoby, Jr., Director of the New York State Emergency Management Office, "but it is an absolute certainty that many of the areas hit by storms this year, and other areas in New York State, will flood in the future."
"Our clear message," Jackson said, "is that we want people protected from the devastation of flooding at all times. It isn't fair to leave the mistaken impression that disaster aid will always be there, or that disaster aid is a substitute for flood insurance."
For more information about the NFIP and flood insurance, people should call their insurance company or agent, call NFIP at 1-888-CALL-FLOOD (1-888-225-5356), ext. 445, or visit the NFIP web site at www.fema.gov/nfip.
FACTS ABOUT FLOOD INSURANCE
- Statistics show that people who live in a flood zone have at least a 26 percent chance of being flooded during the life of a 30-year mortgage, compared to less than a 5 percent chance of fire.
- People living or owning property anywhere in a community that participates in the NFIP may purchase flood insurance, except in some coastal zones
- Flood insurance may be purchased from any insurance agent in New York State. If the agent will not sell you a policy, call the NFIP at 1-888-CALL-FLOOD (1-888-225-5356), ext. 445.
- There is a 30-day waiting period from the time a policy is bought until coverage begins, unless it is purchased in connection with a loan closing.
- The average cost for a flood insurance policy is about $350 a year. The cost may be higher or lower, depending on the amount of coverage and age of your home or building.
- Homeowners can buy up to $250,000 coverage for the building and $100,000 for its contents. Renters can buy up to $100,000 coverage for the contents of their homes.
- In low-risk areas outside the floodplain, minimal coverage may be bought for just over $100 a year. Approximately one-third of all flood insurance claims are paid on losses in these low-risk areas.
- In high-risk floodplain areas, you are required to buy flood insurance to get most mortgages, including federally insured financing, such as FHA or VA loans.
- Actions you take to prevent flood damage may be reimbursable under a flood insurance policy. This includes up to $500 for moving insured contents in imminent danger of flooding and up to $750 for costs such as sandbags, plastic sheets and lumb...