NEW YORK, NY (12/22/2009)(readMedia)-- Homeowners often find out the hard way that floods can happen anywhere and at any time. Flooding, an excess of water or mud on normally dry land, is the most common natural disaster in the U.S. Statistics from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) tell a sobering story:
"Virtually everyone is exposed to potential loss from flooding, yet many people are unaware that flooding is not covered by standard homeowners', renter or business insurance policies. It's important for people to understand their potential risks and then make sure they are protected with appropriate insurance," Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now updating flood hazard maps across the country. When a new map is issued, you may find that the understanding of your level of risk has changed, along with your flood insurance requirements. To see if the map for your area has been updated, go to www.floodsmart.gov.
Flood risk levels are broken into three categories:
The NFIP, a federal program, offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP program. Insurance can be purchased through property and casualty insurance agents and brokers. Many of these agents and brokers also sell homeowners' insurance. Flood insurance rates are set and do not differ from company to company or agent to agent. Rates depend on various factors, which include the date and type of construction, along with a structure's level of risk.
Flood policies can cover up to $250,000 in damage to a structure; additional coverage can be purchased to protect against loss to contents. Renters should talk with an insurance agent to decide if coverage for personal belongings is necessary. Business owners can purchase policies providing up to $500,000 in coverage.
Consumers can find out more about flood insurance by using this link to the Insurance Department's website, www.ins.state.ny.us/hmonindx.htm.