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Flood Risk Is the Number One Natural Disaster: Can It Happen to You?

Regular homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover damage due to flooding which is a travesty because flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States.

While not everyone lives in a flood plain, everyone lives in a flood zone and any property in the United States is susceptible to flooding. It’s just a matter of level of risk. Flood insurance is mandated for those whose homes are built on a flood plain because these areas carry a high level risk for flooding.

Much of Austin can be at risk for flooding. The Cedar River, the Little Cedar River, and the Upper Iowa River have been known to jump their banks during heavy rainfall. Regardless of your level of risk, though, it’s a good idea to become savvy about the risks of flood damage and insurance coverage in your area.

Austin is located right in the middle of “Flash Flood Alley”, in Central Texas. This means sudden flooding may occur after a heavy rainfall. The many small creeks and rivers running throughout the Austin region can suddenly overflow their banks and cause havoc. The City of Austin has worked to minimize the risk of flooding for this reason and, as a result, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be releasing new flood plain maps to take effect September 26, 2008. You can find more information at this Austin City Connection website.

Some areas of the city have been moved out of the flood plain, while others find themselves moved into it. Those who find themselves moved into the flood plain area should consider purchasing flood damage insurance by August 11, 2008 – 45 days before the maps’ effective date – in order to take advantage of better rates.

Because Austin participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, federal flood insurance is available to residents through FEMA. This means that Austin residents get a 15% reduction in insurance fees, making decent coverage affordable. For example, an average premium costs $400 a year for $100,000 worth of coverage. If you find you are one of those whose property has been moved into the flood plain area, you should contact your insurance agent to inquire about the federal insurance.

here is another option to purchasing flood insurance, but it carries less certainty with it than the insurance option. If the president declares a federal disaster due to widespread flooding in your region, you have the option of applying for Federal Disaster Assistance. This aid takes the form of a loan that is repayable in full, plus interest. So, for example, if you should apply for and receive a $50,000 disaster assistance loan, it will cost you about $300 a month for 18 ½ years to pay it back. Insurance will pay for your covered losses whether or not the president declares a disaster.

Still, it’s a good idea to have a look at your insurance options, regardless of the risk of flooding in your neighborhood.

By: Joe Cline

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