Flood Insurance: don’t wait for waters to rise to get it

Oct 01, 2013

The recent stormy weather and heavy rains are a reminder for homeowners and business owners to consider buying Flood Insurance now as the rainy season begins in the Pacific Northwest - especially if your home or business is located in or near a flood plain.

Standard Homeowners and Business Insurance policies do not cover losses caused by flooding. However, everyone at risk for flooding should investigate Flood Insurance, available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Waiting for flood waters to rise before getting Flood Insurance is a risky proposition because there is a 30-day waiting period for new Flood Insurance policies, meaning any flood damage to your home or business before that time will not be covered.

“NFIP studies show that people living in flood plains are 27 times more likely to experience a flood during their 30-year mortgage than they are to experience a fire,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “If you’re in an at-risk area, it makes sense to investigate your options.”

Residents living in or around flood plains are encouraged to review their Homeowners and Flood Insurance policies now before flooding happens.

NW Insurance Council, NFIP and the Institute for Business and Home Safety offer these tips as you consider purchasing Flood Insurance to protect your home during the long rainy season:

· Find out if you are located in a floodplain and if your community participates in the NFIP. Contact your city or county government. Start with the Building or Planning Department and ask to see the Flood Insurance Rate Maps published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine your Base Flood Elevation.

· Contact your insurance agent or company to help you with getting Flood Insurance rates from the National Flood Insurance Program.

· In low-to-moderate flood risk areas, coverage is available for as little as $100 per year. The average premium in high-risk areas is about $400 per year.

· If you are at risk for flooding, buy as much flood coverage as you can, up to the value of your home or business structure. Primary residences insured for at least 80 percent of their value, or for the maximum amounts allowed, get replacement cost coverage.

· There is a 30-day waiting period from the time a policy is purchased until you are covered.

· Become familiar with your community’s disaster preparedness plans and create a family plan ahead of time, before a flood threatens.

· Develop an emergency kit that includes a three-day supply of drinking water and food you don’t have to refrigerate or cook. The kit should also contain first aid supplies, a weather radio, batteries, clothing, blankets, medicine, copies of your insurance policies and some basic tools.

· Be disaster ready. Learn what disasters you’re at risk of in your region and how to prepare your family.

· Develop a home inventory of your personal property. You can access free, downloadable Home Inventory software from the Insurance Information Institute. A complete inventory of your possessions will help you and your adjuster get through the claims process more quickly.

· If you experience damage from a storm contact your insurance company right away so they can begin working on your behalf to repair your home or business.

For more information or copies of brochures titled Are You Ready? Preparing Your Family, Home & Business For a Disaster and Your Guide to Insurance, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies in Washington, Oregon & Idaho.

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