Disaster Officials Urge New Yorkers to Buy Flood Insurance for Properties

August 26, 2005

Fewer than one in five New Yorkers who registered for April flooding disaster aid were prepared for the event, federal and state disaster recovery officials said this week.

“Of the 3,420 registrants, only 542 said they had insurance for some of their losses,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Marianne Jackson of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

That’s why state and federal recovery officials are encouraging all New Yorkers who live on or near a water source to buy flood insurance for structures and contents.

“There is no substitute for insurance,” said State Coordinating Officer James Tuffey, director of the State Emergency Management Office. “Time after time in flooding events, we have seen our citizens unable to recover fully because they were not properly insured. Assess your vulnerabilities and take steps to protect your house and its contents.”

One way to do that is to visit www.FloodSmart.gov. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, has established this Web site to enable anyone to assess flood vulnerabilities, ascertain approximate costs for structure and contents insurance, and find nearby agents who sell NFIP policies.

Flooding is reportedly by far the most common type of natural disaster. There is a 9 percent chance of fire-related losses in the life of a 30-year mortgage, but a 26 percent chance of flood-related losses.

Also, flood damage is not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Flood insurance must be bought additionally, with separate policies for structures and contents.

Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest. For a $50,000 loan at 2.937 percent interest, the repayment would be around $209 a month ($2,509 a year) for 30 years. By contrast, a $100,000 flood insurance premium costs about $400 a year ($33 a month).

Flood insurance policies do not take effect until 30 days after purchase, so it’s reportedly important to buy coverage before the floodwaters start to rise. There is no waiting period if a policy is purchased at a mortgage closing.

“We are entering a very active part of the hurricane season. While New York may not suffer high wind effects of hurricanes, we often get flooded by remnants carrying heavy water loads. Hurricane Ivan did that to us last year. If you live on or near water or are in a flood plain, buy insurance now and be prepared,” Tuffey said.

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