LAREDO, Texas -- The figures are remarkable. Since 1978, Texas residents with flood insurance have received about $5.4 billion in loss payments. In the last fiscal year alone, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid out 5,424 claims to state policyholders, for structures, to the tune of more than $168 million.
And this year, water-logged state residents with and without flood insurance are faced with a new set of rebuilding and repairing costs after the severe storms and flooding.
"The numbers speak for themselves," said Brad Harris, federal coordinating officer helping oversee disaster recovery efforts. "But the most convincing case anyone can make for purchasing NFIP insurance is the increased peace of mind of knowing that you've protected your most valuable investment and personal property."
Flood insurance is available to any property owner or renter located in a community participating in the NFIP. Statewide, more than 1,100 Texas communities are enrolled in the regular program. All areas are susceptible to flooding, although to varying degrees; in fact, nationwide 25 to 30 percent of all flood claims occur in the low-to-moderate risk areas.
To get federally secured financing to buy, build or improve structures in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) you will be required to purchase flood insurance. Lending institutions that are federally regulated or federally insured must determine if the structure is located in a SFHA and must provide written notice requiring flood insurance.
Harris said that misinformation and misunderstandings were the main reasons why many residents failed to look into obtaining flood insurance.
"It fills a huge gap in homeowner coverage at an affordable cost," Harris said. "It also can cover a renter's personal property as well as some nonresidential buildings such as farm and commercial structures in participating communities."
Harris addressed other misunderstandings that often arise:
- Flood damage is not covered by homeowner policies. You can protect your home, business and belongings with NFIP insurance. You can insure your home with flood insurance for up to $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for your contents;
- You can buy flood insurance no matter what your flood risk is. It doesn't matter whether your flood risk is high, medium or low, you can buy flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP;
- In some cases there may be a 30-day waiting period before the coverage goes into effect. Plan ahead so you're not caught without flood insurance when a flood threatens your home or business; and
- Federal disaster assistance is not the answer. Federal disaster assistance is only available if the President declares a disaster. More than 90 percent of all disasters in the United States are not declared as federal disasters. Flood insurance pays even if a disaster is not declared.
Nearly 21,000 communities across the United States and its territories participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage.
NFIP loss claims are not paid for by the taxpayer, but through premiums collected for flood insurance policies.
You can buy NFIP flood insurance through most major private insurance companies and licensed property insurance agents who sell homeowners' or property insurance or call the NFIP's toll-free line at 800-427-4661, (TTY/TD) 800-427-5593 for additional information.
For more information on the Hurricane Alex disaster recovery, browse the features on this FEMA Web site at www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/2010/alex/index.shtm. Users of smart phones and other mobile devices can visit