Volume 4 Number 15
April 13, 2007

LEARN MORE ABOUT FLOOD INSURANCE

Did you know that flooding is considered the nation’s number one natural disaster, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)?  The 2007 National Flood Safety Awareness Week was held March 19-23, with March 22 as Flood Insurance Day. 

Flash floods, inland flooding and seasonal storms occur both inland and on the coast and affect every region of this country.  Know that floods do not occur only within designated high-risk flood zones on the map.  Recent statistics show that from twenty to 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in low-to-moderate flood-risk areas.  

Flood insurance is available through nearly 100 insurance companies in more than 20,200 participating communities nationwide. Everyone can purchase flood insurance - renters, business owners, and homeowners. The average flood insurance policy costs around $500 a year. And in low- to moderate-risk areas, lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) start at just $112 a year. 

Here are steps both renters and property owners can take to protect themselves and their financial security from flood related damage:

Find out your flood risk right now by entering your address at FloodSmart.gov "Assess Your Risk” or by calling 1-800-427-2419.  Insurance agents can also help check your risk.   

Make sure you have the right insurance: Review your insurance policies and find out what they do and do not cover. Learn the difference between replacement cost coverage versus standard coverage, which only pays the actual cash value of insured property. Be sure that you have enough insurance to cover recent home renovations or improvements. Know that most homeowners insurance polices do not cover flood damage, so be sure to consider flood insurance for both your structure and its contents. There is typically a 30 day waiting period for a flood insurance policy to take effect.  Remember to renew the flood policy annually.

You can review more information about your insurance rights in the State of Florida by reading the Consumer Guide to Homeowner Insurance produced by the Florida Department of Financial Services.  The guide may be obtained by downloading it from the website at www.MyFloridaCFO.com or by calling the toll free Consumer Helpline at 1-800-342-2762 and asking for a free copy to be mailed to your home. 

Inventory your household possessions: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.

Protect important financial documents: Store copies of irreplaceable financial and family documents in a safe place, preferably one that is protected from both fire and water. Documents include automobile titles, tax records, stock and bond certificates, deeds, wills, trust agreements, birth and marriage certificates, photos, passports and insurance policies. Keep originals in a rented safe deposit box. And don't forget the household inventory file! 

Safeguard your home by cleaning debris from gutters and storm drains to allow free flow of potential floodwater.  Install backflow valves in waste lines to keep water flowing in one direction, and protect your well from contamination.                   

When threatened by floodwaters, move valuables and sentimental items to the highest floor of your home or business before evacuation.  Plan and practice a flood evacuation route, ask someone out of state to be your "family contact" in an emergency, and make sure everyone knows the contact's address and phone number.  Build an emergency supply kit: Food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines, and a battery-operated radio should be ready to go when you are.