WESTFIELD, Mass -- Flooding can happen anytime in Massachusetts, especially during hurricane season, from June 1 to December 1. Individuals and business owners in the western part of the Commonwealth can attest to this as they continue to clean up after Tropical Storm Irene that struck in late August. Hurricanes, tropical storms and winter coastal storms, known as “Nor'easters”, have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage in the state, much of it from flooding.
Property owners should not be lulled into a false sense of security because they do not live next to a body of water. Some 20 percent of flooding insurance claims are outside of mapped flood hazard areas. The public should also be aware that only flood insurance provides coverage for water damage due to flooding. A standard homeowner insurance policy does not include flood coverage.
“Whether you live along the coast, by a river or stream, or far inland, a tropical storm or hurricane can lead to serious flooding,” said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Schwartz, Director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). “Many smaller storms also cause floods. I urge all residents to evaluate their flood risk and purchase flood insurance to protect their investment -- and to do it now, because coverage does not begin until 30 days after you buy your policy.”
In 2010, Massachusetts ranked fourth in the nation with 1,936 flood insurance claims filed. The Commonwealth also ranked seventh nationwide with $25,599,747 paid out for flood insurance claims.
While flooding itself is usually not preventable, the financial and emotional toll can be greatly lessened when there is insurance to cover the damage. For those who do not have flood insurance, the results of flooding can be so severe that this results in the household having to take on a heavy debt load.
“Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Mark H. Landry with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the NFIP. “Over the course of a 30-year mortgage, a property owner in a floodplain is four times more likely to have flood losses as a fire loss. Flood insurance provides financial protection at a reasonable cost.”
As with other types of insurance, the policy premium is based on the degree of risk and the amount of coverage. A coastal property or one on the bank of a river has a higher risk of flooding and, therefore, a higher insurance premium than one that is further inland and on higher ground.
Homeowners may buy insurance for their houses and personal property and renters may buy personal property coverage. Businesses may buy coverage for their buildings and contents. Consumers and businesses can find a list of agents in their area who sell the coverage on the www.FloodSmart.gov Web site or by calling 1-800-427-4661.
To find out what the premium would be for various amounts of coverage, the www.FloodSmart.gov Web site, a one-stop resource created by the NFIP to help people buy flood insurance, has a calculator function that automatically provides this information when an address and zip code are entered.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.