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|EVERY YEAR, FLOODS DAMAGE MORE U.S. HOMES THAN ANY OTHER TYPE OF NATURAL DISASTER. Photo courtesy of NOAA||
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FLOOD INSURANCE . . . ARE YOU COVERED?
The winds are whipping and the furious seas are lashing against the crumbling seawall. As the waters rise in one immense tidal surge, the seawall, the road behind it, and the entire first story of your house are awash. Knee-deep in this briny mess is not the time to start thinking about flood insurance.
Every year, floods damage more U.S. homes than any other type of natural disaster. And it's not just the houses along the shore or a riverbank at risk. In fact, 20 to 25 percent of flood insurance claims are outside areas considered "high-risk" for floods.
Bottom line, your homeowner’s policy does not cover flood damage. If you are expecting federal disaster relief to save the day in case of a major flood, you will be in for a long wait and will most likely get a loan that has to be repaid with interest, if disaster relief becomes a vailable at all. So, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is your best bet for protecting what is probably your biggest investment.
The NFIP, created by Congress in 1968 and managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), makes federally backed insurance available in communities that develop and enforce floodplain management mechanisms. The NFIP flood-proofing standards also offer a great benefit to homeowners, with houses meeting these standards suffering 77 percent less flood damage than other homes. (In addition, FEMA's
Coastal Construction Manual
provides state-of-the-art recommendations for flood-proofing and storm protection. See
Coastal Construction Manual: a Great Tool for Protecting Homes from Storm Damage
on page 24 for details.)
Maps are available to help you determine your flood risk, and there's plenty of information on NFIP. To find out more, check out the FEMA Web site at http://www.FEMA.gov/nfip/index, call your insurance agent, or call FEMA at 1-888-FLOOD29, TDD# 1-800-427-5593.
100-YEAR FLOODS DON'T COME ON SCHEDULE
The statistics can get even more confusing. For any particular 100-year period, there is a 63.5 percent chance of having a "1-percent annual chance flood." Confused? Over long periods of time these events are likely to happen every 100 years, but over any particular 100-year period, the chances are less simply because these things are not scheduled and are not absolutely predictable. From a more practical perspective, over the typical life of a mortgage (30 years), there is a 26 percent chance of seeing a "100-year flood." If that statistic makes you nervous, see Flood Insurance . . Are You Covered? at left for more information.