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ISSUED 12/22/2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONSUMERS SHOULD CONSIDER FLOOD INSURANCE PROTECTION

Homeowners often find out the hard way that floods can happen anywhere and at any time. Flooding – an excess of water, or mud on normally dry land – is the most common natural disaster in the U.S. Statistics from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) tell a sobering story:

  • Homes in areas at high risk from floods are three times more likely to be damaged by a flood than a house fire.
  • Nearly 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas at low risk of flooding.

“Virtually everyone is exposed to potential loss from flooding, yet many people are unaware that flooding is not covered by standard homeowners’, renter or business insurance policies. It’s important for people to understand their potential risks and then make sure they are protected with appropriate insurance,” Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now updating flood hazard maps across the country. When a new map is issued, you may find that the understanding of your level of risk has changed, along with your flood insurance requirements. To see if the map for your area has been updated, go to www.floodsmart.gov.

Flood risk levels are broken into three categories:

  • High-risk areas have at least a one percent chance of flooding annually. All homeowners in these areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to buy flood insurance.
  • Moderate-risk areas have less chance of flooding annually, but the possibility is not completely removed. Flood insurance is not required, but it is recommended for homeowners and renters.
  • Undetermined risk areas are where flood-hazard analysis has not been conducted, but a risk still exists.

The NFIP, a federal program, offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP program. Insurance can be purchased through property and casualty insurance agents and brokers. Many of these agents and brokers also sell homeowners’ insurance. Flood insurance rates are set and do not differ from company to company or agent to agent. Rates depend on various factors, which include the date and type of construction, along with a structure’s level of risk.

Flood policies can cover up to $250,000 in damage to a structure; additional coverage can be purchased to protect against loss to contents. Renters should talk with an insurance agent to decide if coverage for personal belongings is necessary. Business owners can purchase policies providing up to $500,000 in coverage.

Consumers can find out more about flood insurance by using this link to the Insurance Department’s website, www.ins.state.ny.us/hmonindx.htm.

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