Des Moines, Iowa -- Officials from the National Weather Service recently stated that Iowa is at risk for significant flooding this spring after winter storms produced excessive snowfall just before Christmas of 2009 and a January 2010 ice storm.
In the wake of the National Weather Service announcement, officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), along with its state partners at Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HSEMD), are encouraging Iowans to purchase flood insurance now to protect their property from flood damage.
“State and federal disaster grants, even when they’re available, are intended to help people start their recovery, not to replace entire households,” said Kay Phillips, who is the Director FEMA’s Iowa Recovery Office. “That’s why flood insurance is so important. It’s the best financial protection you can buy.”
Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and business owners/renters in communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
“If you are considering purchasing flood insurance, I’d urge you not to delay,” said Iowa’s State Coordinating Officer Patrick J. Hall. “With the excessive snowfall this winter and with spring right around the corner, Iowans could be facing flooding in the very near future.”
Generally, there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to become effective once the full premium has been paid. The waiting period is waived when obtaining, increasing, extending or renewing a federally backed loan for a property. In cases where a property has been reclassified as high-risk because of a Flood Insurance Rate Map revision (now in a floodplain when prior to the revision, it was not), the waiting period is reduced to one day.
Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers and the property's flood risk.
The good news is that for many, flood insurance doesn’t have to break the bank. Affordable rates are available throughout most of Iowa – even for many who were flooded recently for the first time in 2008.
The cheapest flood insurance is known as a Preferred-Risk Policy, which provides coverage for anyone outside of a Special Flood Hazard Area. These policies have low rates because they cover structures that are in low- to moderate-risk areas.
Under a Preferred Risk Policy, flood insurance for a house with a basement that is in a low- to moderate-risk area would cost about $287 annually ($100,000 insurance on house; $40,000 on contents).
A policy for a house in a Special Flood Hazard Area would cost approximately $1,577 to provide $100,000 in coverage on the structure and $50,000 in contents.
So if you’re looking to buy flood insurance for the first time, here’s what you need to know:
- Everyone lives in a flood area. That means there is always a flood risk at any given time – be it from a river or just a sudden, heavy rain combined with the spring melting snowfall.
- Most general insurance policies do not cover losses from flooding. To be protected, you need a separate flood insurance policy.
- To be eligible for flood insurance, your house or business has to be located within a community that participates in the NFIP. That’s because the federal government requires communities to adopt and maintain certain minimum standards for floodplain development and management in exchange for the availability of flood insurance. To determine if you are in a participating community, contact your local building official or go online to www.floodsmart.gov.
- Flood ins...