DENVER – There’s a hidden threat that strikes countless unprepared Americans each year – flooding. Unlike fire, wind, hail or most other perils, flood damage is not covered by a homeowners’ policy. An uninsured flood loss can undo a lifetime’s worth of effort and create a mountain of bills. Fortunately, a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy provides the defense against such losses and can ensure that a flood doesn’t bring financial ruin.
Flooding is an ever present threat; it can happen at any time and in virtually any location. While certain areas may be more prone to flooding – especially those in coastal areas or riverine environments – history has shown that almost no place is immune to flooding. Flooding can have many causes: a quick heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt can cause flash flooding, a blocked culvert or storm sewer drain can create flooding in a city neighborhood, or prolonged wet weather can swell streams and rivers. Even dry conditions can pose a threat, as minimal rainfall in wildfire burn areas or drought stricken regions can create flash flooding when soils are unable absorb even slight precipitation.
Flood insurance is easy to get, the only requirement is that you live in a participating community (which might be a county or other jurisdiction for those living in unincorporated areas). That’s right; you don’t need to live in a floodplain to purchase a policy. In fact, if you live outside a floodplain you may be eligible for a preferred risk policy that has a much lower premium than for a policy in a higher flood risk area. And in most cases you can purchase an NFIP policy with the insurance agent you already deal with for other insurance needs. When that isn’t possible, NFIP can put you in touch with another agent that can get you a flood insurance policy.
One key difference of an NFIP policy from another insurance policy is the 30-day waiting period prior to the policy going into effect. But that doesn’t mean anyone should view a policy like a lottery ticket, something purchased only if flooding appears imminent. A policy should be viewed as protection against a continuing threat rather than a hedge against a singular event such as anticipated spring flooding or following a wildfire.
The average flood insurance premium nationwide is about $700 a year – less than $2 a day for financial protection from what could be devastating effects of a flood to one’s home or business. By purchasing a policy now, or keeping your existing policy, you have peace of mind. As with any insurance, be sure to talk with your agent about the specifics of your policy – how much coverage you need, coverage of contents as well as structure and any other questions you might have.
Find out more about your risk and flood insurance at www.floodsmart.gov. To purchase flood insurance or find an agent, call 1-800-427-2419.
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.