SALEM, Ore. -- Oregonians may be water-weary, but those with flood insurance know they have chosen the best way to protect their homes from flooding.
“Flooding is the most common disaster in this country, but homeowner’s insurance rarely covers flood damage,” said the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph Diemont.
“Ask anyone who was flooded recently,” said Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s State Coordinating Officer Paulina Layton. “All it takes is a few inches of water to cause major damage to your home. The National Flood Insurance Program offers a low-cost way of protecting yourself and your property from harm.”
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is backed by the federal government. Policies are sold by private insurance agents throughout Oregon. Homeowners, businesses and renters can purchase flood insurance as long as their community participates in the program.
Today 21,564 communities nationwide participate in NFIP; 260 of them are in Oregon. Only 21 incorporated cities and three tribes in Oregon do not participate in the program. To participate, a community must adopt and administer flood hazard regulations. To see a list of participating Oregon communities, go to www.fema.gov/fema/csb.
Homes in high risk areas, have a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. As a result, many borrowers in high-risk areas are required to buy flood insurance. But flooding can happen anywhere. In fact, nearly 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from moderate to low risk areas.
Many people choose not to buy flood insurance because they believe they cannot qualify for it, or that it will cost more than they can afford.
“We understand people's concerns, particularly in this tight economy, said Layton, “But buying flood insurance doesn't have to be expensive,” said Layton.
The average homeowner in Oregon pays about $725 a year for flood insurance. NFIP flood insurance can be purchased for as little as $129 a year for a home in a low risk area. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers, and the property’s flood risk.
Flood insurance can cover up to $250,000 for the structure and up to $100,000 for its contents. For businesses, structural coverage is available up to $500,000, and up to $500,000 for contents.
Since 1973, the NFIP has paid nearly $40 billion dollars in flood insurance claims, helping hundreds of thousands of families and businesses recover from flood events. More than $103 million of that has come to Oregon policy holders.
So be flood smart. Buy flood insurance. Remember: It takes 30 days after purchase for flood insurance to go into effect. Act now.
Go to www.floodsmart.gov to find out more about your flood risks and NFIP.
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.