Charleston, WV -- The figures are remarkable. In the last quarter-century, more than 17,000 West Virginians with flood insurance have received more than $1.6 billion in loss payments. In the last fiscal year alone, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid out 595 claims to state policyholders to the tune of $5.5 million.
And now, water-logged state residents with and without flood insurance are faced with an enormous new set of rebuilding and repairing costs after the double-deluge of torrential rainfall, and snow and ice associated with the winter storms.
"The numbers speak for themselves," said Louis Botta, federal coordinating officer helping oversee disaster recovery efforts. "But the most convincing case anyone can make for purchasing NFIP insurance is the increased peace of mind of knowing that you've protected your most valuable asset or personal property."
Flood insurance is available to any property owner or renter located in a community participating in the NFIP. Statewide, 264 West Virginia communities are enrolled in the program. All areas are susceptible to flooding, although to varying degrees; in fact, nationwide 25 to 30 percent of all flood claims occur in the low-to-moderate risk areas.
To get secured financing to buy, build or improve structures in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) you will be required to purchase flood insurance. Lending institutions that are federally regulated or federally insured must determine if the structure is located in a SFHA and must provide written notice requiring flood insurance.
Botta said that misinformation and misunderstandings were the main reasons why many residents failed to look into obtaining flood insurance.
"It fills a huge gap in homeowner coverage at an affordable cost," Botta said. "It also can cover a renters personal property as well as some nonresidential buildings such as farm and commercial structures in participating communities.
Botta addressed other misunderstandings that often arise:
- Flood damage is not covered by homeowners policies. You can protect
your home, business and belongings with NFIP insurance. You can insure
your home with flood insurance for up to $250,000 for the building and
$100,000 for your contents;
- You can buy flood insurance no matter what your flood risk is. It
doesn't matter whether your flood risk is high, medium or low, you can
buy flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP;
- There is a 30-day waiting period before the coverage goes into effect.
Plan ahead so you're not caught without flood insurance when a flood
threatens your home or business; and
- Federal disaster assistance is not the answer. Federal disaster assistance is only available if the President declares a disaster. More than 90 percent of all disasters in the United States are not declared as federal disasters. Flood insurance pays even if a disaster is not declared.
Nearly 20,000 communities across the United States and its territories
participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management
ordinances to reduce future flood damage.
NFIP loss claims are not paid for by the taxpayer, but through premiums collected for flood insurance policies.
You can buy NFIP flood insurance through most major private insurance companies and licensed property insurance agents who sell homeowners' or property insurance or call the NFIP's toll-free information line at 800-427-4661, (TTY/TD) 800-427-5593.