N.Y. Residents Can Prep for Potential Floods

May 31, 2005

Do you know if there is a flood threat near your home or business in New York? If not, there is a new and simple way to find out. Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) www.floodsmart.gov Web site.

“With a few simple mouse clicks,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Marianne Jackson of FEMA, “you can find if your property is at risk for flooding, find an insurance agent who sells flood insurance in your area and get an estimate of what the flood insurance policy may cost.”

To find that information, enter www.floodsmart.gov into the address bar of your Web browser. Start your visit by clicking Section 2 of the blue box at the top right of the FloodSmart home page. A screen will appear where you can enter your street address, city, state and zip code. Press the “submit” button. The answer will be that your property is in a high risk, or low to moderate risk, flood zone. If a red box shows on the screen that your address risk level is unavailable, follow the information in and below the box.

Once you know your risk, click on Section 4 of the blue box, in the top right corner of the page, to access a general estimate of what a flood insurance policy for your property will cost – for both structural and contents coverage – calculated by amount of insurance desired. For low to moderate risk areas, preferred risk flood insurance policies are available from $100 to $350 a year, depending on the amount of coverage selected.

Section 5 will provide a list of insurance agents who sell flood insurance in your area. Only an insurance agent can provide the full, detailed cost of flood insurance for your structure and contents.

There is additional information about flood insurance, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and other flood related issues. Everyone is encouraged to extend their visit to www.floodsmart.gov to learn more about flooding and how to protect yourself from flooding.

Floods are the most common type of natural disasters. There is a 9 percent chance of fire-related losses in the life of a 30-year mortgage. There is a 26 percent chance for flood-related losses.

Also, flood damage is not covered by homeowner insurance. Flood insurance must be bought separately. There are separate flood insurance policies for structure coverage and for contents coverage.

Even though flood insurance may not replace property and possessions to pre-disaster conditions, it is a best first step to recovering from a flood, even a small one that does not merit a presidential disaster declaration.

Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest. For a $50,000 loan at 2.937 percent interest, your monthly payment would be around $209 a month ($2,509 a year) for 30 years. Compare that to a $100,000 flood insurance premium, which is about $400 a year ($33 a month).

It takes 30 days after purchase for a flood insurance policy to take effect, so it’s important to buy it before the floodwaters start to rise. If a policy is purchased in conjunction with a mortgage closing, there is no waiting period.

“We encourage all New Yorkers to get flood smart by visiting FEMA’s www.floodsmart.gov Web site. Protect you and your loved ones from flood damages and losses by purchasing a flood insurance policy. When it comes to flooding, there is no substitute for flood insurance,” Jackson said.

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