MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama residents keeping an eye on the forecast for heavy rains and flooding should know that a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers their best protection against loss.
Those who already have flood insurance policies are encouraged to check their policy each year, update as necessary, and make sure premiums remain paid in full.
There are some Alabama residents who may have flood insurance and not be aware of it, particularly those who may have moved within the last three years. A special policy issued as disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is held on real property, not on the occupant/applicant.
FEMA's Group Flood Insurance Program (GFIP) provides flood insurance to many Alabamians who received a disaster grant for financial assistance for property damage due to flooding. It is issued as a three-year policy on the damaged property, not to the owner. The value of the policy is the same as the amount of the disaster grant. For example, if a property owner receives a $4,500 grant, the property is insured for that amount for the next three years under GFIP.
Those who had damage to personal property from flooding in 2006 and 2007 and received a FEMA grant under the Other Needs Assistance program may have received a GFIP insurance policy. The premium is prepaid for three years.
To find out if their GFIP policy will cover damages this year, FEMA urges those who may have been enrolled in the program to call the NFIP's toll-free number, 1-888-FLOOD29.
When an operator answers, provide the address of the structure. A copy of the policy is not required to get information about whether the property in question is covered under the GFIP.
"At this time of year, it is particularly urgent for Alabama residents to know their flood insurance options," said Albie Lewis, federal coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It takes 30 days for new NFIP policies to go into effect.
Flood damage is not covered under homeowner insurance policies, and there is no guarantee that federal disaster assistance will be available when a flood occurs. Federal disaster assistance is limited, and often in the form of a loan which must be repaid with interest.
Flood insurance is available to homeowners, business owners, and renters. Policies offer up to $250,000 coverage for homeowners, up to $100,000 for personal property and up to $500,000 each for business contents and buildings.
For more information or to find an insurance agent near you who sells flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov, or call the NFIP at 888-FLOOD29. The hearing- or speech-impaired should call TTY 800-427-5593.
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.