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:: How much is flood insurance worth? ::
We’ve all seen the
jarring images on the news—salvaged clothes and possessions laid out
to dry in front of a water-logged house; families holding up a
lifetime of photographed memories saturated in murky water; an
aerial shot of a town almost entirely covered in water so that only
the tips of rooftops and trees are visible. Other than a brief
feeling of compassion and a sigh of relief, people usually don’t
think any further about making sure that they are prepared with
flood insurance if such a disaster were to happen to them. But
nearly every day, flooding occurs somewhere in the United States. In
fact, floods are the most common natural disaster, causing billions
of dollars in damage each year.
The beautiful spring weather certainly has few people
thinking of the summer hurricane threat, but this week marked the
official 30-day countdown to the 2007 hurricane season. For many
Americans, this is an important time to consider protecting their
home and property against flooding.
Although hurricanes and tropical storms directly
affect the coast, some of the most damaging flooding can occur
hundreds of miles inland from hurricane storm surges that often
result in heavy rains and winds. Standard homeowners insurance
doesn’t typically cover flood damage, but Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA), who coordinates the Federal government’s
role in preparing for the effects of natural disasters, offers
affordable flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance
Program (NFIP). If your community participates in NFIP, you can
purchase flood insurance from a licensed private insurance company
at an average annual cost of $400, just about $34 a month. If you
live in a low-to-moderate flood risk area, the coverage can be
purchased for an even lower cost.
Learning your community’s flood risk can help you in
deciding if you want more or less coverage. The NFIP’s website,
you to enter property information to determine your flood risk.
Whether your flood risk is low, medium, or high, it is always
recommended that you purchase some sort of flood insurance. Even if
your community doesn’t have a history of recent flooding, it doesn’t
mean that one hasn’t happened in the past or one won’t happen in the
future. The NFIP states that almost 25% of all flood insurance
claims come from areas with minimal or low flood risk. And even one
inch of flooding can cause nearly $8,000 in damage.
NFIP coverage is not just for homeowners. Small
businesses and renters may also purchase flood coverage for their
buildings and equipment. You can even buy separate flood coverage
for a home business.
To purchase flood insurance, first check the NFIP
Community Status Book to see if your community is a participant. The
status book is available at
http://www.fema.gov/fema/csb.shtm. Next, check with your
insurance agent about purchasing NFIP flood insurance. Almost 100
private insurance companies and 20,000 independent insurance agents
offer NFIP coverage. You may also contact the NFIP directly at (888)
379-9531 to request an agent referral.
So how much is flood insurance worth? It’s worth
lessening the emotional and financial toll that flood waters bring,
and it’s worth the secure feeling that comes with being prepared
when disaster strikes. Don’t test the waters—the best time to get
flood insurance is now. For more information on the National Flood
Insurance Program and flood coverage, visit