FEMA encourages Floridians to buy flood insurance


While August marks the halfway point of the hurricane season, FEMA is reminding Floridians that the most active months of the season remain, and so does the need for flood insurance.

According to FEMA, a policy does not take effect until 30 days after the date of purchase. But once a named storm approaches, it’s too late to buy a flood policy; insurance companies suspend binding coverage until after the storm passes. Buying and maintaining flood insurance now, the agency said, will help protect Floridians financially from storm damage that could occur later.

FEMA is reminding Floridians that standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Flood damage, according to the agency, is most often called an excluded peril, meaning it’s not covered. A flood insurance policy protects policyholders financially even when a presidential disaster is not declared or if they live in a county that was not designated for federal assistance.

Per the agency, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has more policies in Florida than any other state. Only about half of Florida homeowners in high-risk areas, however, had insurance against flooding before Hurricane Irma made landfall Sept. 10, 2017. In addition, FEMA noted that floods can happen almost anywhere, reporting that almost 30 percent of flood insurance claims come from low-to-moderate risk areas and receive one-third of all federal disaster assistance for flooding.

By July 12, 2018, FEMA said 33,111 NFIP claims for Irma damage had been filed. More than $1.1 billion had been paid to policyholders, with an average closed claim payment of $49,740.

Floridians are eligible to purchase an NFIP policy as long as their community participates in NFIP. According to FEMA, the national average annual policy for home and business owners is about $700 for up to $250,000 in coverage. Properties in moderate-to-low risk areas may qualify for lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy rates. In addition to coverage for structures, NFIP offers contents coverage as low as $48 per year in some areas for home and business owners and renters. Policies may help with up to $100,000 in losses for residences and up to $500,000 for businesses.

For information on flood risk and flood insurance visit www.fema.gov/national-flood-insuranceprogram or call (800) 427-4661 for voice, 711 and Video Relay Service.