Boise, ID -- With winter in full swing, emergency management officials are reminding renters and property owners that the difference between disaster and simple annoyance is often just a few hundred dollars worth of flood insurance, and a healthy dose of mitigation. Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Regional Director Tammy Doherty advises homeowners to take action before winter floods or spring thaws strike.
"You don't have to live in a mapped floodplain to need flood insurance, and flood waters can rise just hours after a heavy rain," said Doherty. "Urban watercourses and creeks conceal nasty surprises?and there is a 30-day waiting period before newly purchased flood insurance takes effect. The message is clear: buy flood insurance!"
Bureau of Disaster Services Director John Cline couldn't agree more. "We Idahoans enjoy the same flood hazards as our Pacific Northwest neighbors, plus some additional 'uniquely Idahoan' hazards," said Cline. "Yes, we take winter rains seriously, and yes, we all need to keep a wary eye on weather forecasts as temperatures rise and snow packs melt. We also need to look out for frazzle ice induced flooding as Idaho cold fronts freeze the inner core of lakes, displacing sudden gouts of water. We need to be especially aware of increased flash flood dangers inherited from last year's wildfires and lost ground cover.
Cline insists that informed homeowners buy flood insurance. "Flooding is the leading cause of property loss from natural disasters, and flood insurance is one of the most important things that people can do to help themselves recover from flood damage," continued Cline. "Flood damage is not covered by most homeowners or business insurance policies."
Flood insurance is available to residents of communities that have agreed to adopt and enforce sound floodplain management practices, and according to Cline, virtually every community in Idaho qualifies. "By aggressively managing their floodplains, our local officials guarantee property owner access to affordable flood insurance, while reducing future flood damage. National Flood Insurance is all about taking action before disaster strikes, and reinforces the nation-wide Project Impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities initiative."
Cline warned victims of previous floods who bought flood insurance to qualify for disaster assistance not to let their policies lapse, or they would be disqualified from future federal assistance.
Flood insurance covers structural elements and contents (purchased separately) for all insurable residential and non-residential buildings. Policies can be purchased from any licensed insurance agent or broker. Maximum coverage for single-family homes is $250,000 for the structure itself, and $100,000 for contents. Renters can also insure their personal belongings for up to $100,000. Businesses can insure buildings for up to $500,000 for the structure, and contents for up to $500,000.
The NFIP is self-supporting, with all claims and operating expenses paid from policyholder premiums, not tax dollars. For more information about the NFIP, contact your insurance agent, or call toll free: 1-800-427-4661.