Photo by Diane Cox
A house on Clifton Terrace off the Great River Road is surrounded by floodwaters Dec. 31.
Illinois homeowners, renters and business owners are eligible to buy National Flood Insurance Program policies even if their home or business isn’t in a flood plain or high-risk zone.
The program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable flood insurance and encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations.
Insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners and renters, and commercial owners and renters. To purchase a policy, the residence or business must in a community that participates in the program. Illinois communities in the program are listed at http://www.fema.gov/cis/IL.html. Other communities can request to be added if they meet certain criteria.
Insurance agents or agencies certified to sell and service NFIP policies are listed at http://www.fema.gov/wyo_company?field_states_tid=55.
Residents also can contact their own insurance agent or company to find out more about federal flood insurance or find an agent serving their area by filling out the One-Step Flood Risk Profile at www.floodsmart.gov.
Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what is covered and the property’s level of flood risk. Those in moderate- to low-risk areas can purchase a special preferred risk policy that provides building and contents coverage for one low price. Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before the policy goes into effect.
An NFIP policy is important even if federal aid is available after a flood because federal disaster assistance typically comes in the form of small grants or low-interest loans to help cover flood damage, not to fully compensate for losses. Even then, those grants and loans are only available if the president formally declares a disaster. NFIP policies are not dependent on a federal disaster declaration.
Flooding occurs in moderate- to low-risk areas as well as in high-risk areas because of factors like poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, snowmelt and broken water mains. In addition to floods, NFIP policies also cover damage from mudflows. In fact, more than 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from areas outside of mapped high-risk flood zones.
NFIP policyholders who have questions about their flood insurance policy or the claims process, as well as disaster survivors who have questions about the program, can contact the support hotline at (800) 621-3362. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability using 711 or VRS can call (866) 337-4262. Individuals using a TTY can call (800) 462-7585.