BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Popular yet incorrect notions about the National Flood Insurance Program can lead homeowners and businesses to avoid this easy and important safeguard. Here are some truths about National Flood Insurance that can help residents prepare for floods.
Myth: Homeowners insurance policies cover floods.
Fact: No, most standard multi-peril home and business insurance policies do not cover flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the only way a homeowner, business owner or renter can limit the cost of damages from flooding. Homes, businesses and their personal property and business inventory contents are covered for flood by NFIP. Policies may be purchased through private insurance companies or directly from an NFIP Agent.
Myth: You cannot buy flood insurance if you do not live in a high flood-risk area or if your home or business flooded in the past.
Fact: You can buy National Flood Insurance no matter where you live, provided your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance even if your home, apartment, or business has experienced a flood. Even if your area is not considered a high flood-risk, all areas are susceptible to flood. Nearly 25 percent of all NFIP claims are from outside high flood-risk areas.
Myth: National Flood Insurance does not cover flood damage to anything in the basement.
Fact: Yes, it does. The NFIP defines a basement as any area with a floor below ground level on all sides. In a basement, the NFIP covers essential home equipment connected to an electrical source such as sump-pumps, furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, heat pumps, circuit breakers etc.
The NFIP also covers structural components in the basement such as staircases, elevators, dumbwaiters, unpainted drywall walls, ceilings and fiberglass insulation. If the resident or business owner chose to insure their basement 'contents' with their policy, NFIP would cover clothes washers and dryers, food freezers located in the basement as well as the food inside.
The NFIP does not insure 'finished' basements. The NFIP will not cover improved basement walls, ceilings, furniture or entertainment electronics in a finished basement.
Myth: You cannot buy flood insurance immediately before or after a flood.
Fact: You can buy National Flood Insurance anytime but there is a 30-day waiting period after the first premium payment before the policy becomes effective. The waiting period is reduced to one day during the first 13 months after a change to the local Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). If the building or home was recently revised to be a high flood-risk area, an NFIP policy takes effect one day after the first premium payment.
To learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program, visit their Website at www.floodsmart.gov. On the Web site you can learn if your community participates in NFIP and where to locate an insurance agent that sells National Flood Insurance near you. The interactive portion of the site offers specific information on flood risk to your home or business and can estimate your flood insurance premium. For more questions about NFIP and the Floodsmart program, call their toll-free telephone number at 1-888-379-9531.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.