BATON ROUGE, La. -- Every day flooding occurs somewhere in the United States. Floods are the most common natural disaster causing not only billions of dollars in damage, but untold heartache for millions of people. No one knows that better than the residents of the Gulf Coast states now struggling to recover from the devastating 2005 hurricane season.
While there is no way to eliminate the pain and suffering caused from natural disasters, individuals and families can lessen the emotional and financial toll from flooding by purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is managed by the U.S Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Flood insurance provides financial security at an annual average cost of about $400, just over $33 per month. For people living in low-to-moderate risk areas, coverage may be purchased for about $100 a year. Flood insurance is easy to get. About 100 private insurance companies and 20,000 independent insurance agents offer the coverage. People without insurance agents can call 1-800-427-2419 to locate an agent.
NFIP coverage is not only for homeowners. Businesses may apply for coverage to buildings and their contents, including equipment. Homeowners and renters may purchase separate policies to insure personal property. Policy coverage is also available for individuals with a home business.
FEMA recovery officials remind all property owners that homeowners insurance does not cover floods. Only flood insurance provides protection from water damage due to flooding. Federal officials also recommend property owners purchase flood insurance whether flood risk is high, medium or low. One in four flood loss claims is filed in low-cost areas. Flood insurance is available to any property owner located in a community participating in the NFIP.
The best time to buy flood insurance is now. Coverage usually doesn't begin until 30 days after the purchase date.
For more information, 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.