Rock Island, IL -- In the aftermath of the flooding that affected ten western Illinois counties bordering the Mississippi river, state and federal disaster officials are reminding all homeowners throughout Illinois that they may purchase flood insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by the Federal Insurance Administration, a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"Year in and year out, flooding is the leading cause of property loss from natural disasters in this country," FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer David Fukutomi said. "But all too often, homeowners learn after the fact that protection against flood loss is not part of their normal insurance protection package."
According to disaster officials, there are about 11 million households located in designated flood hazard areas in the United States, yet only 25 percent of them are insured against floods.
"The clear message is that we want people protected from the devastation of flooding at all times," State Coordinating Officer and IEMA Director Mike Chamness said. "The potential for flooding still remains and flood insurance is one of the first steps residents can take to protect themselves."
Flood insurance is available to residents of communities that have agreed to adopt, administer and enforce floodplain management ordinances designed to reduce future flood losses. The policy is available from most insurance agents, and there is a 30-day waiting period before the policy is effective.
BENEFITS OF NFIP COVERAGE INCLUDE:
Eligibility to secure financing to buy, build, or improve structures in special flood hazard areas - Lending institutions that are federally regulated or insured require NFIP coverage before they grant secured financing. However, homeowners need not live in a floodplain area to obtain an NFIP policy as long as their community participates in the program.
Protection against being uninsured in the event of a flood - Standard homeowners' insurance policies do not compensate for flood damage. While federal disaster assistance programs, such as U.S. Small Business low-interest loans, are not granted for a second dwelling or vacation home, an NFIP policy can protect any structure.
Less expensive than federal disaster loans - Average annual premiums for NFIP coverage are significantly less than loan payments, even though those are granted under favorable terms. While premiums vary according to the degree of flood risk, the average annual premium for standard flood insurance (excluding contents) is $300 for approximately $114, 000 of coverage.
All floods are covered - Flood damage from events that are not federally declared disasters is covered by NFIP policies. Most flood events are not federally declared, yet NFIP coverage will cover the policyholder in many of those situations. And policies cannot be canceled following flood damage.
Homeowners who carry flood insurance are covered for any flood-related damage to the ground level or upper floor(s) of their homes. A policy may be extended to include protection for flood-damaged personal belongings. 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, and appliances located in basements, such as washers, dryers, and food freezers.
Flood insurance coverage is also available for business owners, for contents as well as for the structure itself. Renters may purchase contents coverage for their personal belongings. To find out more information about flood insurance, or whether a particular community participates in the program, homeowners can call the NFIP toll-free hotline at (800) 427-4661.