The Most Important Insurance You Don't Have


This spring's hot fashions? Floral prints and flood pants.

That's because weather forecasters are predicting more than sunshine and snapdragons this season. “We expect rains and melting snow to bring more flooding,” says Vickie Nadolski, the deputy director of the National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—NOAA—a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. “Americans should be on high alert to flood conditions.” For the 250 neighborhoods across the country that experienced spring flooding just last week, this is not news. But for those of us who remain high and dry, at least for now, it is time to consider some damage control.

Flooding is the number one natural disaster in the U.S., and in the last ten years annual flood loss averaged $2.4 billion per year. But unless you live in a high risk area, it is easy to ignore the importance of flood insurance. “Most people don’t have flood insurance unless it’s required by the mortgage company,” says Dale Burton from a State Farm Insurance branch based in Salem, Ore. But flood loss isn’t covered by homeowner’s insurance, which could leave you up a creek (or under one) without it.

Unlike homeowner’s insurance or car insurance, you can’t really shop around for flood insurance because it’s issued under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “We can write flood insurance for the federal government, but everything is under their standards,” says Burton.

Because there is a 30 day delay before flood insurance coverage can start, both FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are suggesting people secure their policies immediately. Visit the NFIP, and determine the appropriate policy for you, whether it is to insure a personal dwelling, general property or residential condominium building association. Dwelling coverage is standard for most homeowners, and includes two options; up to $250,000 of property protection and up to $100,000 of personal possession protection. Losing your personal affects can be more devastating than structural damage to your home, which is why the NFIP recommends buying both elements of coverage.

“Recovering after a flood can be overwhelming. With flood insurance, you have the financial support to get back on your feet as quickly as possible,” says David Maurstad, Assistant Administrator of Mitigation and Federal Insurance Administrator for FEMA. “Too often, people mistakenly think flood damage is covered by a homeowner’s policy.” There are more than 90 insurance companies in 20,300 communities nationwide where you can purchase flood insurance. In low-to-medium risk areas, lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) start at just $112 a year and the rate doesn’t increase if you make a claim. And, because flood insurance is issued by the NFIP, it’s backed by the federal government, meaning you can depend on being reimbursed for flood damages even if a flood isn’t declared a natural disaster. Happy Spring!


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