Honolulu, HI -- In the aftermath of the recent severe storms and flooding on the Big Island, disaster officials are reminding all homeowners, renters and business owners throughout the state of Hawaii that they may purchase flood insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
"Year in and year out, flooding is the leading cause of property loss from natural disasters in this country," FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer William L. Carwile III said. "But all too often, homeowners learn after the fact that protection against flood loss is not part of their normal insurance protection package."
Flood insurance is available to all residents of Hawaii because the state's four counties have agreed to adopt and enforce sound floodplain management practices.
Benefits of NFIP coverage include:
- Eligibility for secured financing to buy, build or improve structures in special flood hazard areas - Lending institutions that are federally regulated or insured must see evidence of NFIP coverage before they grant secured financing.
- Protection against being uninsured in the event of a flood - Standard homeowners insurance policies do not compensate for flood damage.
- Less expensive than federal disaster loans - Average annual premiums for NFIP coverage are typically less than disaster loan payments, even though those loans are lower interest loans. Also, flood damage from events that are not federally declared disasters is covered by NFIP policies.
- Reduced risk of flooding - Buildings substantially damaged by flood, if rebuilt to NFIP new construction standards, have less risk of damage from flooding and are eligible for NFIP coverage at a reduced rate.
Homeowners who carry national flood insurance are covered for any flood-related damage to the ground level or upper floor(s) of their homes. Those who have also purchased contents coverage are insured for flood damage to their personal belongings as well. Coverage for flood-caused damage to basements is limited to structural elements and basic items used to service the building such as furnaces, water heaters, utility connections, etc.
"The message is clear." Carwile said, "We want people to be protected from the devastation of flooding at all times. It isn't fair to leave the impression that disaster aid will always be there as a substitute for flood insurance."
Flood insurance is available through any licensed property agent who is in good standing with their state's Department of Insurance. For more information on the NFIP program, Hawaii residents can call the NFIP general information toll-free hotline, 1-800-638-6620.