Buying flood insurance: A way to be prepared for the worst

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

It appears that everyone is beginning to recognize the need for flood insurance in places that might be more prone to flooding.

From November 2005 to November of last year, the number of federal policies jumped more than 13 percent, far more than normal, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Participation in coastal and other vulnerable areas spiked dramatically. In Mississippi, the number of policies jumped 61 percent, for example.

But strong increases were seen in northeastern and western states as well. Idaho had a 24-percent increase, and Rhode Island 21 percent.

The numbers are a welcome trend for the federal government, which has struggled to gain more participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The increase – roughly 700,000 new policies – will help spread the program’s risk of disaster around the country and leave more people protected instead of scrambling for taxpayer relief in the aftermath, officials said.

Floods and flash floods can occur anytime, anywhere. The best defense against devastating financial loss from a flood is to be prepared.

Most flood damage is not covered by a homeowners’ insurance policy.

Federal disaster assistance offers loans to help cover flood damage, not compensation for your losses. Even then, those loans are only available if the president formally declares a disaster – and less than 10 percent of all weather emergencies in the United States are declared.

Even though your house may have never flooded, that doesn’t mean that it will never happen. So it is always good to be ready just in case the worst happens at your home.

Structures located in high-risk flood areas have a significant chance (26 percent) of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage while only a nine-percent chance of loss from fires. A home mapped in a high-risk area is three times more likely to suffer damage from a flood than a fire in the lifetime of a typical mortgage.

By taking a few extra steps to get flood insurance, it could help save you and your family a lot of money and trouble when a flood does occur.