Donelon Urges Consumers to Protect Their Property with Flood Insurance
May 5, 2009
Despite experts predicting an “average” 2009 Atlantic
hurricane season, Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon is strongly
urging consumers to heed the lessons learned from Hurricanes Gustav
and Ike, and to protect themselves and their property against Louisiana’s
most frequent and unpredictable natural disasters – hurricanes
and floods. The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through November
Colorado State University’s Tropical
Meteorology Project forecasters predict that 12 named storms will
form during this hurricane
season. Of those 12, six are expected to grow into hurricanes, with
two of the six becoming intense hurricanes, which are Category 3
storms with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
“Last year’s hurricane season was a costly one for
Louisiana residents, and it showed that even those who do not live
in coastal areas can be affected by flooding,” said Commissioner
Donelon. Hurricane Gustav caused $2 billion in paid, insured property
damage claims in Louisiana, which includes $52 million in flood claims.
By contrast, 50 percent of Hurricane Ike’s paid claims in Louisiana
were a result of flooding. Ike caused $406 million in insured property
damage claims, which includes $203 million in flood claims. Last
spring Louisiana residents living along the Mississippi River also
had concerns over the river flooding its banks due to the spring
snow thaw and heavy rains along the northern parts of the Mississippi
“Currently, only 29 percent of the state’s households
have flood insurance. It is imperative that our residents take action
to guard against this risk,” Commissioner Donelon said. Flood
insurance backed by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program
(NFIP) provides Homeowners, business owners and renters with the
best protection available against flooding. Currently, only 481,643
out of 1.6 million households in Louisiana have flood insurance.
should learn their flood risk and take steps before the next storm
to protect their home or business from potential flood
damage. Standard homeowners insurance does not typically cover flood
damage, but flood insurance covers that damage that residents would
otherwise have to pay for themselves.However,
keep in mind that the NFIP policy does not provide coverage in
excess of $250,000 for your house and $100,000 for its contents.
If you need more coverage, you can purchase excess flood insurance
through private insurers.
“Nearly four years ago Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused
Louisiana residents $19.3 billion worth of insured property damages,
excluding flood insurance claims. Hurricane Katrina also took 1,600
lives in Louisiana. Our recent hurricane experiences emphasize the
crucial need for residents to be prepared,” Commissioner Donelon
said. Although storm surge caused by hurricanes and tropical storms
can wreak havoc on coastal areas, some of the most damaging floods
occur hundreds of miles from the shoreline, days after the storm’s
initial landfall. As hurricanes and tropical storms move inland,
torrential rains and high winds intensify the risks of flooding by
rivers and streams. In fact, rains associated with Hurricane Gustav
last year caused extensive flooding in areas as far north as Alexandria
The risk of hurricanes and related
flooding includes the Gulf Coast and entire Eastern seaboard. Many
scientists predict warmer waters
in the Atlantic will be fuel for stronger hurricanes over the next
15 to 20 years – and storm surge can be a major factor for
coastal areas. Flood insurance covers flooding from tidal and storm
surge where other policies may not.
Contact your insurance agent to purchase
flood insurance. NFIP policies are available to Homeowners, renters
and business owners.
The average flood insurance policy premium is around $500 a year.
However, if your property is located in a low- to moderate-risk flood
zone, you may be eligible for a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy, which
can start as low as $119 a year. Remember, most policies take 30
days to go into effect, so don’t wait until a storm is coming
to purchase flood insurance.
Individuals can learn more about their
flood risk by visiting www.ldi.state.la.us, or calling our nationwide
toll-free number, 1-800-259-5300. Residents
can also visit www.FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 for more
information about flood risk and the benefits of purchasing a flood
insurance policy. Another source of great tips on preparing for hurricanes
is the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness’ “Get
a Game Plan” Web site found at www.getagameplan.org.
Floodsmart – Reduce your Risk
• Learn your flood risk. Properties that are not located in
high-risk areas can also flood. Find out your flood risk right now
by entering your address at www.FloodSmart.gov “Assess Your
Risk.” Your insurance agent can also help you check your risk.
• Plan for evacuation. Plan a flood evacuation route, ask
someone out of state to be your “family contact” in an
emergency, and ensure everyone knows the contact’s address
and phone number.
• Move important objects and papers
to a safe place. Store your valuables where they cannot get damaged.
• Conduct a thorough home inventory.
Thorough documentation of your belongings will help you file your
flood insurance claim.
For more information, visit www.knowyourstuff.org
• Build an emergency supply kit.
Food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines, and a battery-operated
radio should be ready
to go when you are. Visit www.ready.gov for a disaster supply checklist.
• Purchase a flood insurance policy.
Most homeowners insurance does not cover floods and there may be
a 30-day wait before a flood
policy becomes effective. If you already have a flood policy, remember
that your policy needs to be renewed each year.