SCARBOROUGH, Maine - Many people think that if they do not live near a river or the coast, they are not in danger of flooding - not true. In recent years, remnants of tropical storms and heavy spring and summer rainfalls have caused serious flood damage across Maine. Everyone lives in a potential flood zone and most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.
Mainers can take steps to protect their financial well-being before disaster strikes by purchasing flood insurance. You are eligible to purchase flood insurance if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Flood insurance covers direct physical loss caused by "flood." In simple terms, a flood is an excess of water on land that is normally dry. Generally, physical damage to your building or personal property "directly" caused by a flood is covered by your flood insurance policy. For example, damages caused by a sewer backup are covered if the backup is a direct result of flooding. However, if the backup is caused by some other problem, the damages are not covered.
If you live in a high-risk area (Special Flood Hazard Area) you are required to purchase flood insurance if you have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. You must carry the insurance for the life of the mortgage. If you live outside a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) you are still at risk for flooding. In fact, 20 to 25 percent of all flood claims are filed in low-to-moderate flood-risk areas.
Find out about your flood risk by contacting your local floodplain management official. Learn more about flood insurance and risk at www.floodsmart.gov. If you live in a low- to moderate-risk area, you may be eligible for a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy, which can start as low as $112 a year.
To purchase flood insurance, contact your local agent or find an agent online at www.floodsmart.gov or by calling 1-800-427-2419. Policies for building and contents (personal property) coverage can be purchased separately.