NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Destructive flooding regularly occurs in Arkansas; only one percent of the state's residents and businesses have flood insurance. Some may not be purchasing insurance due to a number of misconceptions about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
"Sometimes people are given wrong information, such as ‘their property isn't eligible for flood insurance' when it is," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Moore with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA administers the NFIP. "I urge everyone to visit the www.floodsmart.gov Web site or speak with an insurance agent who sells flood insurance to get accurate information about their risk and the insurance policies that are available."
Misconceptions about flood risk and the NFIP fall into several categories, including misinformation about who can buy flood insurance, the need for flood insurance, flood insurance coverage and NFIP itself.
"Flood insurance helps Arkansas residents protect their assets and our state's overall economic health in the event of floods," said State Coordinating Officer Rich Griffin with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Service (ADEM). "I urge people to educate themselves about flood risk and flood insurance and make wise choices to protect their family's financial health."
Misconceptions about Who Can Buy Flood Insurance
Misconception: You can't buy flood insurance if you are located in a high risk flood area.
Fact: In Arkansas, you can buy flood insurance through the NFIP no matter where you live, except in non-participating communities...jurisdictions that choose not to follow NFIP guidelines for floodplain management. A listing of 397 participating and 69 non-participating Arkansas communities is also available at www.fema.gov/cis/AR.html.
For property located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) -- an area with a 1 percent chance of flooding in any year -- lenders must require borrowers to purchase flood insurance as a condition of receiving a federally-backed mortgage loan.
Misconception: You can't buy flood insurance immediately before or during a flood.
Fact: You can purchase flood insurance at any time. There is, however, a 30-day waiting period after you've applied and paid the premium before the policy is effective.
Misconception: Flood insurance is only available for homeowners.
Fact: Flood insurance can provide up to $100,000 of coverage for the contents of any residential building; this includes the contents of a renter's apartment or home.
Misconception: You can't buy flood insurance if your property has been flooded.
Fact: It doesn't matter if your home, apartment, or business has flooded. You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance for property anywhere in Arkansas except in a non-participating community.
Misconception: Homeowners insurance will pay to repair and replace property that is damaged by flooding.
Fact: Unfortunately, many homeowners do not find out until it is too late that their standard homeowners policy excludes any coverage due to rising or standing water damage from flooding.
Misconception: Only residents of high risk flood zones need to insure their property.
Fact: One-third of NFIP insurance claims involve property not located in an area identified as a high risk zone. Even if you live in an area which is not flood-prone, it's advisable to have flood insurance.
Flooding can be caused by snow and ice melt, dam breach, extremely heavy rain fall, new development which decreases ground absorption of water, or a hurricane. The NFIP's Preferred Risk Policy, available for as little as $119 a year, is designe...