TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Since 1978 Santa Rosa County and its residents and businesses have received more than $417 million from flood insurance settlements. What would this and other north Florida counties look like today if they didn't have flood insurance?
Flood insurance, which is issued through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), has helped hundreds of thousands of north Florida residents repair and rebuild after devastating floods.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Emergency Response Team would like everyone living in north Florida to ask themselves this very important question: Can I afford to be without flood insurance?
"Many Floridians already know how important flood insurance is because more people in our state have flood insurance policies than in any other state," said State Coordinating Officer Doug Wright. "But, I think the more people know about flood insurance the more likely they are to buy a policy. Some risks just aren't worth it."
Due to losses and damages from flooding between March 26 and May 5 of this year, many north Florida homeowners, renters and businesses have filed claims against their flood insurance polices and/or applied for FEMA disaster assistance. No one knows what the rest of the year may bring, but a quick look back at what happened after Tropical Storm Fay last year demonstrates why having flood insurance can be a very good idea.
In the wake of Tropical Storm Fay, Florida's homeowners and renters received a combined total of $18.6 million in FEMA (Individuals and Households Grant Program) assistance, with the average household receiving $3,472 in non-repayable grants. However, those with active flood insurance policies received an average of $21,739 from NFIP settlements, and some who received flood insurance settlements also received grants from FEMA- thereby making recovery faster and easier.
Other insurance, like homeowners' or renters' insurance doesn't cover flood damage. Only flood insurance covers damages caused from rising water in homes and businesses.
"Disaster assistance from FEMA is not meant to bring people back to the situation they were in before a disaster, but having flood insurance can, so it's important to think ahead to what flooding could cost your family," said Jeff Bryant, federal coordinating officer.
Just how much could a flood cost you? Go to www.floodsmart.gov and check out why just six inches of water in your home could cost more than $11,000. The Web site will also help you determine how much various amounts of flood insurance coverage costs and what policies will cover.
As of February 28, 2009, and since 1978, more than $786 million has been paid out for flood insurance settlements to policy holders in the 17 north Florida counties currently eligible for Individual Assistance from FEMA. Those counties include Calhoun, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.
Since 1978 NFIP had paid out more than $3.5 billion in flood insurance settlements to Florida residents, and as of February 2009 there were more than two million active flood insurance policies in these counties.
Another significant benefit to having flood insurance is that it pays for damage no matter how small or large the flood and whether or not there is a disaster declaration. However, it's important to keep in mind that it takes 30 days from the time of purchasing it for a flood insurance policy to become active.
Further, if you have a secondary or vacation home in Florida there may be an added incentive to have flood insurance. FEMA only provides disaster assistance for primary residences, so when disaster strikes the agency can't help repair or replace a sec...