JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- After the September flooding, many homeowners and businesses learned too late that their insurance did not cover flood damages. Time and time again, far too many individuals shoulder these burdens without the financial cushion of flood insurance. In some instances, people have been told they cannot buy flood insurance because of where they live, or because they have flooded before. To address these and other misconceptions about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Federal Emergency Management Agency has compiled the following key facts that everyone should know about flood insurance:
Flood insurance is available. You can buy flood insurance as long as you live in a participating NFIP community. Renters, condominium owners, homeowners and business owners are all eligible to purchase a policy from a local insurance agent.
Flood insurance is sometimes required - but should always be considered. Most individuals that have a mortgage on a home in a high-risk area are required by law to carry flood insurance. But, just because flood insurance is not required, does not mean it is not needed. Even if your lender does not require you to carry it, you should ask your agent about flood insurance options to better protect your biggest investment.
Know your coverage limits - and be fully insured. A maximum of $250,000 of building coverage is available for single-family residential buildings and condominiums. The limit for contents coverage on all residential buildings is $100,000, which is also available to renters. The average flood insurance premium is around $500 per year in a high-risk area. If you live in a low-to-moderate risk area, lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies start as low as $119 a year. For a complete summary of building and contents items covered by flood insurance, visit www.fema.gov/pdf/nfip/summary_cov.pdf.
Commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for the contents. For more information or for help in finding an agent near you, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website, www.floodsmart.gov/
Stay insured. You can purchase flood insurance at any time. However, there is usually a 30-day waiting period before the policy becomes effective. Once you buy flood insurance, the insurance agent will provide you with the policy. If the lender requires the property owner to carry flood insurance, the insurance agent will also provide a copy of the policy to the lender. If you already have a flood insurance policy, remember that your policy needs to be renewed each year. Renewal policy documentation and premium notices are sent directly to the policy holder. However, we encourage all policy holders to talk to their agents annually about their flood insurance coverage.
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.
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