BEVERLY, Mass. -- Of this you can be certain – if your area flooded during the April heavy rainfall, it’s likely to flood again. And many have learned too late that an ordinary homeowner’s policy does not cover flood damage, disaster recovery officials said.
Fortunately, affordable flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters and business owners in communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), whether or not they are located in high-risk portions of the floodplain known as Special Flood Hazard Areas. Participating communities are those that have agreed to adopt and enforce sound floodplain management practices to reduce future flood damage.
“Any agent licensed to sell property and casualty insurance can write a federally backed flood insurance policy,” State Coordinating Officer Cristine McCombs said. “The NFIP sets flood insurance rates nationally, but premiums will vary depending on different levels of flood risk.”
Federal Coordinating Officer James N. Russo noted that when a disaster strikes, taxpayers are willing to help pay the bill. “But,” he said, “individuals must face up to recurring losses themselves, and flood insurance appears to be the only answer.”
Certain categories of people who must purchase and maintain flood insurance or risk being ineligible for disaster assistance in the future include the following:
- Homeowners/renters who receive state and federal Individuals and Households Program (IHP) disaster assistance and who live in the floodplain. As part of the IHP, the state and FEMA will purchase flood insurance for the homeowner/renter for a period of three years. After that, the insured parties are required to renew the policy at their own expense.
- Homeowners/renters/business owners who receive SBA loans for disaster-related damages to properties in floodplains. These individuals must purchase flood insurance as a condition of the loan.
- Renters who receive grants to replace disaster-related contents losses. Renters must maintain flood insurance as long as they occupy the dwelling for which the grant was made.
- Purchasers of property on which the seller is already required to maintain flood insurance. The seller must inform the buyer of the requirement to maintain coverage.
- People who obtain mortgage loans from federally regulated lenders. These individuals must also maintain flood insurance for the life of the loans.
“Another strong reason for purchasing flood insurance is that it provides coverage for most flood-related events, not just the 10 percent that are presidentially declared,” Russo said. “As long as you have a valid policy on your home and/or its contents, when the floods come, you will be covered.”
NFIP coverage is available from Massachusetts insurance agents licensed to sell property and casualty insurance. For more information, call NFIP at 1-800-427-4661, contact your local insurance agent, or visit the FEMA Web site www.fema.gov.
Massachusetts residents and business owners with losses related to the April flooding who have not yet registered for assistance are urged to do so immediately by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The lines are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday until further notice.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and...