Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- As heavy rains continue to deluge communities throughout the country, state and federal disaster officials are urging Iowans to consider purchasing low-cost National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insurance to avert future losses.
Recent excessive rains across Iowa have created problems in homes and businesses away from the rivers and streams that regularly flood. People in areas that don't normally see flooding are finding water in their homes and basements. The causes of flooding from the recent storms include poor drainage, ground saturation, inundated septic systems, dam and levee breaks, all aggravated by excessive rain.
"Iowa is one of the most flood-damaged states in the nation," said Iowa Hazard Mitigation Officer Dennis Harper. "The state has suffered eight serious floods in nine years, including the Great Midwest Floods of 1993."
Many people are not aware that their normal homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage and federal disaster aid for flood victims is only available in a presidentially declared disaster. More than 90-percent of floods in the country are not declared disasters. Victims must have flood insurance to recover losses in these undeclared events or they pay for it out of their own pocket.
"Living in the floodplain without flood insurance is like living in a wood frame building without fire insurance," said Steve Zimmerman, State Coordinating Officer for Iowa. If you live in a flood plain, there is a 26 percent chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage compared to a 4 percent chance of fire.
Zimmerman added, "But you don't have to live in a flood plain to be flooded. We strongly urge uninsured homeowners, renters and businesses to consider purchasing flood insurance." In fact, 25 percent of all claims are for properties located outside of designated flood hazard areas.
Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters and businesses. Homeowners may apply for coverage for their property, homeowners and renters may apply for coverage for the contents of the home, and businesses may apply for coverage to their buildings, their contents and equipment.
Flood insurance is available, regardless of where you live, as long as your community participates in NFIP. The average premium costs a dollar a day, $300.00 per year for $100,000 of coverage in the floodplain. Special, preferred risk, policies for homes in low to moderate risk areas are available for as low as $100 per year. Applicants should be aware that there is a 30-day waiting period before a NFIP policy takes effect.
Insurance agents in Iowa who are licensed to sell property and casualty insurance can sell flood insurance. Persons who can't find an agent who will sell them flood insurance may call NFIP's toll-free number 1-800-427-4661 and they will direct you to agents in your area.