September 28, 2000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: CHRISTOPHER GOETCHEUS
(617) 521-7333


INSURANCE COMMISSIONER URGES CONSUMERS
TO CONSIDER FLOOD INSURANCE


Ruthardt says homeowners along floodplains aren't the only consumers at risk.

(BOSTON, MA) With hurricane season upon us, Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Linda Ruthardt is reminding consumers to consider safeguarding their homes, businesses and possessions from the devastation of floods through the National Flood Insurance Program.

"A flood can occur just about anywhere and not only during hurricane season. Once it happens, it's too late to prevent financial loss if you're without flood insurance. Not enough people are aware that their homeowner policies won't cover flood damage," said Commissioner Ruthardt.

In Massachusetts, only 27% of nearly 100,000 residential and commercial structures located in special flood hazard areas are protected with coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program. When severe storms and floods hit Massachusetts in June of 1998, only 2% of those who applied for federal and state help carried flood insurance.

"The average flood insurance claim payment is more than $15,000. Flood insurance not only offers greater financial protection to homeowners but it reduces the financial burden that taxpayers must shoulder in assisting uninsured flood victims," Commissioner Ruthardt added.

SOME IMPORTANT FLOOD FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
  • Your homeowners' policy does not cover you for flood damage.
  • You don't have to live near water to be flooded. Approximately 25% of all flood insurance claims come from "low-risk" areas. Floods are commonly caused by storms, melting snow, dam or levee failure or water backup due to overloaded drainage systems.
  • Flood insurance is affordable. The average policy costs around $300 annually for about $100,000 of coverage.
  • Flood insurance claims are paid even when a federal disaster is not declared. Almost 90% of floods are not designated as disasters by the President.
  • Increasing the number of properties with flood insurance significantly reduces the financial burden placed on federal and state taxpayers following a flood disaster.
  • Flood insurance claims are paid with premiums collected, not taxpayer dollars.
  • The average cost to repay a disaster loan, available only if a federal disaster is declared, is approximately 12 times as expensive as paying the average annual flood insurance premium.
  • Your mortgage company or bank may require you to carry flood insurance, but it is your responsibility to maintain adequate coverage limits.
The National Flood Insurance Program makes federally backed flood insurance available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances. In Massachusetts, 331 communities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. There are more than 38,000 policies currently in force, representing $5 billion worth of flood coverage.

Consumers who wish to learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program may do so by contacting the program online at www.fema.gov or by calling (888)-CALL-FLOOD.