Denver, CO -- People who live near burned areas from last year's fires in Colorado face another potentially devastating threat: floods.
Protect yourself financially by buying flood insurance now, federal and state officials urge.
Burned areas have lost ground cover, are often in steep areas, and often have hardened surfaces as a result of the fires. All those factors increase flood danger, since more water runs off and runs off faster.
"That is why those who live near burn areas, as well as those who live near rivers and streams and other high-risk areas, particularly need flood insurance," says David Maurstad, regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Denver. "Without flood insurance, property owners must bear the costs for flood damage to their homes or businesses, which can be devastating."
Standard homeowners policies provide no coverage for flood damage. Yet statistics show that, over the life of a 30-year loan, property in high-risk areas is 26 times more likely to have a flood than a fire.
Property owners should buy flood insurance now, says Maurstad, who is himself a former insurance broker from Nebraska. The flood coverage does not go into effect until 30 days after the policy is purchased. As a result, people who want protection by early April must purchase the policies now.
The policies can cover homeowners, business owners and renters for the cost of damage to their homes and/or personal property.
Even people who do not live in high-risk areas should consider the policies, says Maurstad. One quarter of all claims to the National Flood Insurance Program are for structures outside high-risk areas. Coverage for those lower-risk areas can begin in the low $100 range annually.
For details on prices and coverage, those interested should talk to an insurance agent. Policies can be purchased through most agents who sell homeowners insurance. Homeowners, renters and business owners can contact a local agent, or call the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-427-4661 for the names of local agents who offer flood insurance.