COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It happens every year. All over America, flooding repeats itself and thousands suffer major damage to their homes. And then many of the victims find out they aren’t insured. In Ohio, flooding is the most likely disaster residents will face time and time again, and 2004 is no exception.
“Buying flood insurance is the best thing you can do to protect your home, family, financial security or your business,” said Lee Champagne, federal coordinating officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Insurance is the first line of defense, and those residents with flood insurance policies do not have to wait for a presidential declaration to file a claim. A policy is the best way to reduce future disaster costs. The average policy costs about $400 a year for $100,000 of coverage.
‘Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, even though flooding is one of the most frequent and devastating causes of property damage,” said Dale Shipley, executive director of Ohio EMA and state coordinating officer in the disaster recovery efforts. “Unlike a standard homeowners and renters policy, a National Flood Insurance policy covers losses to your property caused by flooding.”
Some disaster assistance includes flood insurance for those living in the Special Flood Hazard Area. Assistance grants can automatically cover the first three years’ premiums, but it is up to the applicant to ensure that the policy is maintained or it could severely limit future disaster assistance.
A primary example of the importance of maintaining flood insurance occurred during this year’s series of flooding events in Ohio. Homeowners who were flooded in the late 90’s and received certain forms of disaster assistance were insured under a three-year group policy. At the end of the three-year term the property owners chose to let their flood insurance policies lapse.
Those who failed to maintain their policies and experienced new damages were only eligible for temporary rental assistance rather than the full-range of disaster programs. Federal and state assistance can include grants for home repairs and serious other needs assistance not covered by insurance or low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Another important benefit available to flood insurance policyholders is Increased Cost of Compliance. Flood insurance policyholders in special flood hazard areas can get up to $30,000 to help pay the cost to bring their home or business into compliance with their community’s floodplain ordinance. This benefit is available to elevate, relocate or demolish a home or flood proof a non-residential building.
To be eligible for ICC coverage homeowners who structures are determined to be substantially damaged (experienced damage by a flood to the point that repairs will cost 50 percent or more of the building’s pre-damaged market value) by their community official or classified as a repetitively flood-damaged building can apply for this benefit. Some 2004 Ohio disaster victims now realize that by not keeping their flood insurance policies valid they loss out on possibly tens of thousands of dollars in Increased Cost of Compliance funds.
It’s very important to know that if you have a federally backed, secured mortgage on a home in a high-risk zone or a home where the disaster damage was caused by flooding, federal law requires you to buy flood insurance. Also, if you received previous federal disaster assistance as a result of a flood, and that assistance included a three-year flood insurance policy, at the end of the three-year term a homeowner must maintain the flood insurance policy to qualify for future aid.
A standard flood policy will cover structural damage, ...