Property Damage From Virginia Storm Should be Reported to Insurers Immediately, Says Insurance Information Institute - Flood, Mudslide Damage Not Covered by Property Owners Insurance Policies

NEW YORK, July 31, 2001 - People in Virginia and West Virginia whose property was damaged by wind and flooding, should contact their insurance company immediately.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) says windstorm damage is covered under standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies. Flood, mudslide and mudflow damage are not covered by property owners insurance policies.

Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Damage from a mudflow (a river of mud) is covered under the NFIP. A mudslide (a slope which becomes over-saturated and collapses) is generally not covered. Flood insurance for homes or small businesses can be purchased directly from the federal government or through insurance companies or agents.

The "comprehensive" portion of automobile insurance policies covers losses due to flooding, mudflow and mudslide, but not all drivers purchase comprehensive coverage, which is frequently dropped as a car's market value declines.

Nationally, approximately 25 percent of eligible properties participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. The other 75 percent of structures in flood-prone areas are uninsured against risk.

To help people understand the importance of flood insurance; the I.I.I. offers the following facts:

  • Homeowners insurance does not cover flood or mud damage. Only flood insurance will cover your losses in the event of a flood. Insurance for homeowners, renters and businesses is available, however, through the federal government.
  • Floods and flash floods occur within all 50 states. Almost everyone is vulnerable to floods, no matter where they live. In fact, the National Flood Insurance Program says that one out of four flood claims come from outside flood risk areas.
  • Flood insurance policies can be purchased from licensed brokers. Flood insurance is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is sold via the more than 80 participating insurance companies that write and service policies through a special arrangement with the Federal Insurance Association (FIA), as well as through thousands of insurance agents nationwide. Contact your insurance agent for details or call the NFIP at 1-800-638-6620.
  • Don't wait to obtain a flood insurance policy. If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you are eligible to purchase flood insurance through the NFIP. Remember, there is a 30-day waiting period before your coverage takes effect, so don't delay.
  • Flood insurance cost. The average premium for an NFIP flood insurance policy is $593 per year for approximately $125,000 worth of coverage. The maximum coverage amounts are $250,000 for a single-family home and $100,000 for its contents. Maximum coverage for businesses is $500,000 for buildings and $500,000 for contents. For those homes in lower risk areas, with no history of flooding, a preferred-risk policy may be purchased for $106 (no basement) or $131 (with basement) for $20,000 worth of coverage.
  • Disaster aid is only available in federally declared disaster areas. Before most forms of federal disaster assistance are made available, the President must declare the area a major disaster -- and less than 10% of all disasters are Presidentially declared. Flood insurance claims are paid even if a disaster is not declared by the President.
  • Relief from floods primarily comes in the form of loans. If your area is declared a disaster, no-interest or low-interest loans are usually made available by the federal government. But these loans are just that - loans -- and must be paid back. Obtaining a flood insurance policy is the only way to truly protect yourself from the cost of flooding disasters.

Contact your insurance representative to discuss how you can insure your property against possible future flood damage.

For more information on flood insurance, visit the I.I.I. web site ( http://www.iii.org ) or the NFIP web site ( http://www.fema.gov/nfip ). The Institute for Business & Home Safety also has a brochure Protect Your Home Against Flood Damage, which is available by accessing their Web site: http://www.ibhs.net/ibhsdocuments/pdf/flood10.pdf

The Insurance Information Institute is a non-profit communications organization committed to educating consumers about what insurance is and how it works.

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