ALBANY, N.Y. -- Smart consumers looking to purchase flood insurance, should learn the basics about floods, flood risks, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and then question their insurance agent thoroughly.
The NFIP was created when Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. It provided an opportunity for property owners to purchase flood insurance protection made available by the federal government. The NFIP is the primary source for flood insurance in the U.S. If a community participates in the NFIP, property owners can purchase flood insurance from a licensed private insurance company or independent property and casualty insurance agent. Presently 90 private insurance companies in more than 20,200 communities participate in the program.
"Even for people who didn't have recent flood damage, buying flood insurance is a critical first step in protecting against future disasters," said State Coordinating Officer John R. Gibb, Director of the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO). "Time after time, people who have had property damage from floods are unable to recover fully because they were uninsured."
Flood losses in the U.S. averaged $2.4 billion per year for the last decade. In the last 50 years, nearly 1,000 flood events were designated as federally declared disasters. Nearly 75 percent of all federally declared disasters over the past five years involved flooding. More than 5 million Americans are protected with flood insurance, but millions more are unaware of their personal risk for property damage ? or options for protection.
With these statistics, homeowners, renters, and business owners should be mindful of the myths that exist regarding flood insurance.
IF AN AGENT TELLS YOU:
You cannot buy flood insurance if you are located in a high-risk flood area -- the truth is that you can buy Federal Flood insurance no matter where you live if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), except in certain coastal areas.
You cannot buy flood insurance immediately before or during a flood -- the truth is that you can purchase flood coverage at any time. There is a 30-day waiting period after you have applied and paid the premium before the policy is effective, with some exceptions.
Homeowners' insurance policies cover flooding -- the truth is that most homeowners' insurance policies do not cover flood damage, but a separate flood insurance policy can be purchased for both the building and its contents.
Flood insurance is only available for homeowners -- the truth is that flood insurance is available to protect homes, condominiums, apartments, and nonresidential buildings, including commercial structures.
You cannot buy flood insurance if your property has been flooded -- the truth is that it does not matter how many times your home, apartment, or business is flooded. You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance if your community is participating in the NFIP.
Only residents of high-risk flood zones need to insure their property -- the truth is that all areas are susceptible to flooding, although to varying degrees. It is advisable to purchase flood insurance to protect even properties not located in a flood plain.
If an insurance agent is unfamiliar with the NFIP or is not licensed to sell it, there are several additional options. Anyone can visit the NFIP Web site at www.floodsmart.gov, where they can find an agent in their area or companies that participate in NFIP and offer flood insurance in their state. To request a referral, people also can call the NFIP at 1-800-427-2419.
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