COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Maintaining a flood insurance policy is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against the cost of flood damage. As many residents found out in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, homeowner policies do not cover damage from rising waters.
But those who do not have flood insurance can take steps now to protect themselves against future flood losses.
"Flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd has caused devastation on our eastern counties," said Stan McKinney, Director of the South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division. "We are in the process of helping people recover, but existing programs will not make people whole again. The only way to ensure complete recovery is through flood insurance."
Flood insurance is available to anyone in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). These communities have agreed to adopt sound floodplain management procedures. There is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect. To find out about flood insurance, homeowners and renters can call the NFIP toll-free information number at 1-800-720-1090.
Nationwide, more than 19,000 communities participate in the NFIP, and more than 4.1 million flood insurance policies are in force with a total coverage of nearly $500 billion. In South Carolina, 452 communities participate in NFIP and 115,288 flood insurance policies are in force with a total coverage of more than $17 billion.
Benefits of NFIP coverage:
- Protection against being uninsured in the event of a flood - standard homeowner's insurance policies do not compensate for flood damage.
- NFIP policies cover all eligible flood damage resulting from water-related disasters - property owners should be aware that not all disasters are eligible for federal assistance.
- Flood insurance is advisable even in neighborhoods that are not in a floodplain - nearly 25 percent of NFIP claims come from low or moderate-risk properties.
- Homeowners may purchase up to $250,000 flood insurance on a single-family house structure and up to $100,000 on its contents. A business owner may insure his or her building for up to $500,000 and its contents for another $500,000. Renters can secure up to $100,000 coverage for personal belongings.
- Eligibility for secured financing to buy, build or improve structures in special flood hazard areas - banks and mortgage companies that are federally regulated or insured must see evidence of NFIP coverage before they grant secured financing.
- Reduced risk of flooding - buildings substantially damaged by flooding, if rebuilt to NFIP new construction standards, have less risk of damage from flooding and are eligible for NFIP coverage at a reduced rate.