Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States.
Flooding can happen anytime, anywhere and not necessarily near the coast, lakes or rivers. In recent years, about 25% of national flood insurance claims came from places not considered high risk for flooding. Flooding can be caused by hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rain, ice jams, fast melting snow, and dam failures. Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to a home or business.
Standard homeowner’s or business insurance does not cover flood damage.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created by Congress in response to the rising cost of disaster relief for flood victims. It is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners and business owners. Because government assistance is not always available to help homeowners rebuild, it’s a good idea to purchase flood insurance. If federal money becomes available, it usually only covers the cost of making a home safe and clean, it doesn’t replace property. Grants are sometimes available to those without insurance, but there is no guarantee grant money will be available. Low-interest loans may also be available, but must be repaid with interest.
The cost of flood insurance depends on the amount of coverage, what is covered and the property’s flood risk. The average cost in 2015 was about $700 a year. Policies are available for up to $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for its contents.
To buy a National Flood Insurance policy, call your insurance agent or contact one of the private insurance companies that write flood insurance under a special arrangement with the Federal government. Call the National Flood Insurance Program’s toll-free number to obtain the name of an agent in your area who does write flood insurance. The number is 1-888-RAIN-924.