Weath­er­ing hur­ri­cane sea­son: In­sure your home now

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Hur­ri­cane sea­son isn’t over and it isn’t too late to take steps to fi­nan­cially in­sure your home against flood­ing. The Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­dicted an ex­tremely ac­tive sea­son with a 70 per­cent like­li­hood of 13 to 20 named storms, of which 7 to 11 could be­come hur­ri­canes, in­clud­ing 3 to 6 ma­jor hur­ri­canes.

You don’t have to live right on the coast to face sig­nif­i­cant loss from hur­ri­canes and trop­i­cal storms. Hur­ri­canes can pro­duce se­vere flood­ing on the coast and in­land. Some of the most dam­ag­ing and dan­ger­ous floods oc­cur when the rem­nants of a hur­ri­cane or trop­i­cal storm sys­tem travel in­land, pro­duc­ing above av­er­age rain­fall hun­dreds of miles from the coast.

Pre­par­ing be­fore the storm is crit­i­cal. Home­own­ers insurance does not usu­ally cover flood dam­age – only flood insurance can en­sure your fi­nan­cial pro­tec­tion against the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of flood­ing. Also, there typ­i­cally is a 30-day wait­ing pe­riod be­fore flood insurance goes into ef­fect. If you wait for the storm to form, it will prob­a­bly be too late.

“If we didn’t have flood insurance, I would be home­less,” says Ber­tie Mid­gett, whose home was de­stroyed by Hur­ri­cane Irene.

If you’re not sure if you need flood insurance, here are some things to con­sider:

• Main­tain­ing flood insurance cov­er­age can make for a faster, more cost-ef­fec­tive flood re­cov­ery com­pared to re­ly­ing on fed­eral dis­as­ter as­sis­tance which usu­ally comes in the form of a loan that must be paid back with in­ter­est. For ex­am­ple, a $50,000 loan at four per­cent in­ter­est re­quires a monthly pay­ment of about $240 a month ($2,880 a year) for 30 years. The av­er­age flood insurance pre­mium of $640 per year cov­ers up to $250,000 in build­ing cov­er­age and $100,000 in con­tents cov­er­age.

• Just a cou­ple inches of wa­ter can cause tens of thou­sands of dol­lars. Learn how much a flood in your home could cost you by us­ing the in­ter­ac­tive Cost of Flood­ing Tool on Flood­S­mart.gov/dont­wait. You can also lis­ten to home and busi­ness own­ers share their per­sonal sto­ries and why they’re glad they had flood insurance or why they wish they had pur­chased a pol­icy.

• Any­one can be fi­nan­cially vul­ner­a­ble to floods. In fact, those out­side of Spe­cial Flood Hazard high-risk ar­eas file more than 20 per­cent of Na­tional Flood Insurance Pro­gram’s (NFIP) claims and re­ceive one-third of dis­as­ter as­sis­tance for flood­ing. And just be­cause you’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced a flood be­fore does not mean you won’t ex­pe­ri­ence one in the fu­ture. Fac­tors such as new land de­vel­op­ment can in­crease your flood risk, es­pe­cially if the con­struc­tion changes nat­u­ral drainage pat­terns.

• Flood insurance is sold by insurance agents and backed by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Rates are set and do not dif­fer from com­pany to com­pany or agent to agent. Visit Flood­S­mart.gov/dont­wait or call 888-226-9499 to lo­cate an agent serv­ing your area.

Don’t get caught off guard. Take steps now to fi­nan­cially pro­tect your­self from a flood.


Dur­ing hur­ri­cane sea­son, don’t get caught off guard. Take steps now to fi­nan­cially pro­tect your­self from a flood.

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