MARION, Ill. -- The simple reality is that it pays to have flood insurance. Too often, Illinoisans whose homes have flooded discover that homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage.
Flooding is the most common disaster nationwide; however, often it does not qualify for federal disaster assistance. Although many floods are caused by huge storms, more floods occur every day as a result of small, localized events, such as a typical afternoon thunderstorm. It's important to remember that just a few inches of water in a home can cause thousands of dollars of damage.
Buying flood insurance, even if you think your home may never be flooded, is a critical first step in protecting you and your family against future damage. And, no matter how many sunny days appear to be on the horizon, there's no time to waste. Remember, it takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to take effect.
Flood insurance pays for damage no matter how small or large the flood and whether or not there is a disaster declaration. It's not just for homeowners. Renters can buy policies that cover their belongings inside a rental unit and business owners also can cover their properties and contents.
You do not have to live in a high-risk flood area to buy flood insurance; however, to be eligible, your community must participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and adopt and enforce minimum floodplain standards. Most cities and towns in Illinois participate in the NFIP, with some exceptions.
Premium rates for flood insurance are based on flood risk; the lower the risk, the lower the premium. The average policy for a home in Illinois is $400 a year; however, basic policies are available for as little as $119 a year. You would need to buy a separate flood insurance policy for the contents.
Most agents selling homeowner's insurance also can sell federal flood insurance policies. Or a phone call to the NFIP call center at 1-800-427-4661 will connect directly with a program representative who can provide the names of local insurance agents. Find more information about the National Flood Insurance Program at www.FloodSmart.gov.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.