HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters in the United States. You can ask any one of the thousands of Pennsylvanians struggling to recover from the devastating floods caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. For disaster survivors who did not have flood insurance, recovery is more challenging than it would be if they had an insurance cushion.
According to officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, some people do not buy flood insurance because they have misinformation about how the insurance works. Here are some common myths and the facts about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP):
MYTH: My homeowner's insurance will cover me for flood damage.
FACT: Homeowners' insurance does not cover flood damage. You need a separate flood insurance policy. Federal flood insurance, purchased through your insurance agent or company, is the only guaranteed flood insurance available.
MYTH: Flood insurance is only available to homeowners.
FACT: Renters can also purchase policies to cover personal property. Business owners can get coverage for buildings and their contents, including equipment.
MYTH: I can't buy flood insurance because my home has been flooded before.
FACT: It doesn't matter if your home has been flooded before; most Pennsylvanians can buy flood insurance.
MYTH: I can get federal disaster aid if my home has flood damage. I don't need to buy flood insurance.
FACT: Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance is only available after a Presidential disaster declaration for the county in which you live. You may have flood damage but your county might not be designated for federal disaster aid. Flood insurance policies pay claims whether or not a disaster is declared.
The time to buy flood insurance is now. After you purchase a policy, there is a 30-day waiting period before it goes into effect.
For more information about NFIP call 1-888-379-9531 or visit www.floodsmart.gov to find out how to prepare for a flood, assess your risk, estimate the cost of flood insurance premiums, find local insurance agents and get links to community based information.
To register for disaster assistance, call 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585 directly. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. You also can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by smart phone or tablet at m.fema.gov. If you have a disability and need help registering, please don't hesitate to contact FEMA to ask for help.
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.