El Niño: Flood Insurance 101

The word flood brings to mind raging torrents of water racing down streets destroying things in its path! And, that is a flood, but for the purposes of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) coordinated by FEMA a flood can be as simple as rising water that crosses two properties (your house and a city street for instance) and causes damage.

Insurance agencies are certainly getting a bump in business from the perception that El Niño could bring damaging rains. The insurance agents write up is actually FEMA-coordinated NFIP. Jeff Hinesly says, "we've seen a tremendous increase. I would say just in the month of November the number of quotes we've been requested to provide has gone up 2000%."

10,000 quotes in the first ten days of November says Hinesly who adds, "it definitely shows people are concerned."

But in one low-risk neighborhood of Woodland Hills it was clear there was no fear from El Niño.

Homeowners Leat Regwan and Erika Zoeller both say they don't have flood insurance because they don't feel endangered. Zoeller thinks flood coverage is in her home owners policy.

FEMA says home insurance generally does not include floods. That's why the separate policy.

The cost is around $450 for maximum coverage that includes $250,000 for the home and $100,000 on contents. In high risk areas it's more like $700 to $1000 a year.

In a statement to FOX 11 FEMA says: "Even though flood insurance isn't federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20% of all National Flood Insurance Program claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding." The Federal Emergency Management Administration also says if you live in a low to moderate risk flood zone it does not mean NO risk.

Bottomline is that it takes 30 days to get a policy approved. If you're interested contact your insurance agent for more information.

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