Flood Insurance in Louisiana

Gloria Nye  |  6/4/2010 1:05:15 AM

If you think you don’t need flood insurance because you’re not living in a flood zone, then think again. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) says 25 percent of all the claims they pay come from moderate- to low-risk areas for flooding. Flooding is our nation’s No. 1 most common natural disaster. During the last decade, the average flood claim was a whopping $33,000, and most standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage. As little as an inch or two of water in your house can do tens of thousands of dollars of damage. Can you afford to take that risk with your home?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), every home is at risk of flooding. Why? Broken water mains, heavy rains, clogged or inadequate drainage systems -- all can happen almost anywhere, and along the Gulf Coast we also get hurricanes. FEMA estimates that only about 18 percent of those living in high-risk areas currently have flood insurance, and statistically the risk of a house flooding is 2.5 times greater than the risk of a house being damaged by fire.

Hurricane season started June 1, and here’s the kicker: there is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect. Don’t wait and gamble with the risk of flooding. Perhaps you have assumed your homeowner’s insurance covers flood damage, or you thought your house was in an area that could never flood, or you were afraid the cost for flood insurance would be too expensive. Flood insurance rates are fixed and affordable.

The federal government works with about 90 private insurance companies that sell and service flood insurance policies. Rates do not vary between companies, but the insurance premium does vary depending upon the flood risk designation (high – low) of the property’s location. Buildings can be insured for up to $250,000, and contents can be insured for up to $100,000. In low-risk areas, the premiums for building and contents can be as low as $119 per year. Even in higher-risk areas, premiums for buildings and contents may only be a few hundred dollars per year. Flood insurance coverage is available for residential and commercial properties, renters and even condo owners.

Don’t count on governmental disaster assistance to make you whole again after a flood event. If available, flood disaster assistance is usually a loan you will have to pay back with interest. The interest could cost much more than flood insurance.

NFIP has a website where you can evaluate your risk of flooding, get a flood insurance premium estimate, locate an insurance agent, see answers to frequently asked questions and much more.

Go to: www.FloodSmart.gov         Call 1-888-379-9531 for more information.

Reference: NFIP website

For additional information see Flood Insurance publication (also available in Spanish)

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