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2014 Flood safety awareness week – Flood insurance

National Flood Insurance Program
National Flood Insurance Program

The Grand Rapids Weather Examiner presents the last in a series from the National Weather Service (NWS) on Flood Safety. The week of March 16-22 is National Flood Safety Awareness Week.

Flooding from Ice Jams and snow melt frequently impact West Michigan along with flash flooding from thunderstorms and heavy rain. Flood insurance can help to protect you from the potential financial loss related to the flood.

Do you know that flood losses are typically not covered in homeowners’ insurance policies? Nearly everyone is at risk of experiencing damage from flooding.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), everyone lives in a flood zone. It’s just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate or high risk area. Flooding does not just affect high risk areas however. People outside of high-risk areas file nearly 25% of NFIP claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding.

Floods move and can spread for miles. They can have strong currents that in a few moments can sweep away everything that took a lifetime to accumulate, leaving nothing but mud and debris behind. Flood insurance is available, however, to help you insure your property against flood losses.

Background on Flood Insurance
In 1968 the U.S. Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP was created in response to the rising cost of taxpayer funded disaster relief for flood victims and the increasing amount of damage caused by floods. Anyone in a community that participates in the NFIP can purchase coverage.

Protect Yourself with Flood Insurance
Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
Anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. People outside of high-risk areas file nearly 25% of NFIP claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding.
From 2003 to 2012, total flood insurance claims averaged nearly $4 billion per year.
When your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), you can qualify for an insurance premium discount of up to 45% if you live in a high-risk area and up to 10% in moderate- to low-risk areas.
Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers, and the property's flood risk.
All policy forms provide coverage for buildings and contents. However, you might want to discuss insuring personal property with your agent, since contents coverage is optional. Typically, there's a 30-day waiting period—from date of purchase—before your policy goes into effect. That means now is the best time to buy flood insurance.

Undergoing a Map Change
Flood risk can, and does, change over time. Flood risks change for many reasons: new development, changes in levee classification, and environmental changes, to name a few. As a result FEMA is updating flood hazard maps across the country. These new flood maps, also, known as Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs), show flood risk at a property-by-property level.

When new maps are issued, your risk may have changed as well along with your flood insurance requirements. If your property is mapped out of a high-risk area, your flood insurance costs will likely decrease. If you've been mapped into a high-risk area, you will be required to purchase flood insurance if your mortgage is through a federally regulated or insured lender. But you can save money with the PRP Eligibility Extension and through a process known as "grandfathering" provided by the NFIP. If your property was newly mapped into a high-risk flood zone after October 1, 2008, you may qualify for a PRP flood insurance policy.

If you live near a levee, your flood risk may be higher than you thought. Hundreds of levees across the country no longer meet federal standards for protection, so when new maps are issued, these areas will be shown as high risk.
Know your area. Learn your flood risk and see when new flood maps will be available for your community.
Learn more about map changes

Kent County FloodSmart Flooding and flood risks Flood Map Update Schedule

Michigan Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Status Book Report

Read more about the program here: The National Flood Insurance Program

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