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Washington wildfire survivors urged to act on flood insurance

 


Flood risk is higher this year as a direct consequence of the wildfires that burned thousands of acres in eastern and central Washington. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging residents in areas affected by the wildfires to consider purchasing flood insurance now.

When fire burns away trees and other vegetation, healthy roots that soak up rainwater are lost. Heavy rains on burn scars can cause flash flooding or debris flows that can severely damage homes and businesses.

While properties burned in the blazes face the highest risk of wildfire-related flooding, the risk also increases for homes downstream or below scorched areas. Such conditions are one reason flooding is America’s most common natural disaster.

Yet, most homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood damage.

A flood insurance policy is the best option for property owners and renters to safeguard their homes and belongings from flood losses. Most flood insurance is written through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA. The NFIP offers flood insurance to property owners and renters in communities that participate in the program.

Due to the waiting period, NFIP policies become effective 30 days after the premium is paid.

Less than half of the floods in the U.S. result in a federal disaster declaration, while NFIP pays claims even if a disaster is not declared. What’s more, one out of every four claims paid is from an area at medium-to-low risk of flooding.

Most Washingtonians can obtain flood insurance from the agent who handles their homeowners or renters insurance policy, or they can go to the NFIP website at http://www.floodsmart.gov to get a list of the agents in their area who sell the policies. The interactive website also offers an easy way to get the estimated annual cost of flood insurance for a specific address.

 

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