Understanding flood insurance

Understanding flood insurance Floods can happen almost anywhere, and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) wants South Dakota homeowners to be better educated about flood insurance and protecting their homes and property.

"South Dakotans should understand the risks, and they need to understand that their homeowners' insurance will not cover damage from floods," said Kristi Turman, OEM director.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the flood insurance coverage and floodplain management program administered by FEMA, is sponsoring a new nationwide FloodSmart consumer campaign to help educate consumers about these risks. Visit www.FloodSmart.gov for more information about the national campaign.

"As long as a community participates in and is in good standing with the NFIP, anyone in that community is eligible to purchase flood insurance, even if he or she doesn't live in a floodplain," said Turman. "For example, the city of Sioux Falls participates in this program, so everyone in the community is eligible to purchase flood insurance. Residents' premiums could be as low as $112 per year."

The NFIP determines Special Flood Hazard Areas based on several factors, including past flooding. Visit http://www. fema.gov/fhm/ for more information about the evaluation process.

"Between 25 to 30 percent of flood claims are from areas outside of recorded flood zones," said Turman, "This is why we recommend that individuals living in areas not prone to flooding purchase flood insurance as well."

OEM is also notifying residents that flood insurance policyholder claims are paid even when a disaster is not federally declared.

"Federal disaster assistance is only available if the president formally declares a disaster and is often in the form of a loan a person has to repay with interest, in addition to the mortgage loan he or she owes on the damaged property."

OEM recommends individuals ask the following questions when visiting insurance agents:

* Does my community participate in the NFIP?

* Can you confirm which zone I live in?

* Does my community participate in the NFIP Community Rating System (CRS)?

* If so, what is my community's CRS rating?

* Do I qualify for a CRS rating discount?

* What exactly will be covered in case of flood damage?

* How will my premium costs be affected by choosing coverage for building only, contents only or building and contents?

* How will my premium costs be affected if I choose a higher deductible?

* What is the policy fee?

* Are there additional expenses or fees I should be aware of?

Visit http://www.state. sd.us /dps/ and click on "Emergency Management."

for more information about South Dakota's Office of Emergency Management.

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