2006-05-19 / Community

Tips On Getting Flood Insurance

With recent flooding inundating New England towns, Superintendent of Insurance Howard Mills announced that the New York State Insurance Department is again strongly urging that agents and brokers make homeowners aware of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and have homeowners sign a statement if they decline this type of coverage after hearing of its availability.

"The typical homeowners' insurance policy does not cover flood damage and we're urging New York's agents and brokers to convey that fact to their clients," Superintendent Mills said. "Hurricanes and nor'easters are the primary causes of flooding in this part of the country, but an event as common as heavy rainfall can lead to thousands of dollars worth of property damage."

Licensed property/casualty insurance agents and brokers sell flood insurance policies in New York separate from homeowners' insurance policies. The NFIP, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), enables homeowners to purchase federally backed flood insurance so long as the property is situated in a community that participates in the NFIP. Details about those who sell flood insurance policies, and whether a specific community is involved in the NFIP, can be determined by logging onto www.floodsmart.gov.

"Some of the most severe flooding in New York State last year occurred because of heavy, sustained rains in the Hudson Valley, far from coastal areas, and national statistics show that almost 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in communities that are deemed to be low and moderate flood risk areas," Superintend Mills noted.

In a Circular Letter to all of the state's licensed property/casualty agents and brokers, the Department said, "If, after being advised of the availability of flood insurance, the client declines the coverage, it would be prudent for the producer to have the client sign or initial a statement indicating that the client was advised of the coverage and declined to purchase it.

This statement should be maintained by the producer as part of the client's file."

The typical annual premium for a flood insurance policy is about $400, depending largely on the home's location, and covers homeowners for flood-related losses up to $250,000, according to FEMA.

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