Hurricane Season 2007: Tips to Keep Your Home Insured Against Flood Damage

By Krista M. Farmer

The lazy days of summer are upon us. So pass the sweetened sun-brewed iced tea with the mini cocktail umbrella and light up a few tiki torches. But don’t doze off in that hammock just yet. Along with summer comes the increased chance of severe summer weather. As hurricane season swiftly approaches, homeowners are encouraged to prepare for worst case scenarios.

A few days shy of hurricane season, time is quickly ticking for consumers to take action against financial ruin in the event of catastrophe. With an increased amount of hurricanes anticipated this season, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration urges folks to prepare for the worst. The NOAA reports that approximately 13-17 storms will be named and seven to 10 will likely become hurricanes.

So what do you need to do to prepare? Don’t run to the home improvement store just yet. Plywood and duct tape won’t prevent or fix damage from a hurricane. Because hurricanes bring torrential rains and cause extensive flood damage, you need to be sure you’ve purchased flood insurance.

“But doesn’t my homeowner’s insurance take care of flooding? I thought homeowner’s insurance was supposed to cover things like this?”

While it seems logical that homeowner’s insurance would cover flooding, it does not. With FEMA reporting flooding as America’s #1 natural disaster, it makes sense to look into purchasing flood insurance.

You have several options when it comes to purchasing flood coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program offers two federal programs. The main stipulation for these programs is that your community must enroll and be an NFIP participant. This flood insurance can be purchased directly from the NFIP or from some insurance agents.

“But do I have to buy flood insurance when there is a national disaster program that will assist me?”

Because both programs provide coverage for flood damage, you don’t HAVE to purchase flood insurance. Like many government programs, however, national disaster assistance requires much more paperwork and waiting than flood insurance does.

In addition, flood insurance does not have to be re-paid. Most disaster assistance comes in the form of a loan, so it has to be re-paid over a set amount of time. Disaster assistance is only guaranteed when the president puts it into effect – and even then you have to wait for reimbursement.

In short, keep in mind that FLOOD INSURANCE IS NOT INCLUDED in your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you need to apply for flood insurance, start preparing ASAP. Unless you just built your house, there is a 30-day waiting period between when you apply for the insurance and the date it goes into effect. With a little more than a week before hurricane season and 30 days for your policy to take effect, don’t let time slip away with the lazy days of summer unless you’re insured for flood damage.

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