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Most Marylanders Eligible to Purchase Flood Insurance

 (June 19, 2014) – Torrential rains wreaked havoc on communities across Maryland this spring, with flash floods damaging properties from Western Maryland to College Park. Floods can happen any time of the year. Tropical storms bring heavy rains in the summer and fall, and snowmelt backs up quickly on warm winter days. Broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems, and water main breaks all can lead to temporarily high levels of water.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically do not cover damage from flooding. Separate flood insurance policies are required to protect against what can be devastating financial loss. But many Marylanders do not realize that flood insurance is available to nearly everyone in the state, not just those people who live in high-risk areas. Renters, condo owners, and homeowners can purchase policies even if they live in moderate-to-low-risk areas. In fact, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports that nearly 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from outside high-risk areas.

“Only 74,068 of Maryland’s 2.4 million households have flood insurance, leaving a large portion of our population unprotected from the potentially high cost of major repairs,” notes Maryland Insurance Commissioner Therese M. Goldsmith.  “Everyone should evaluate the risks and consider whether to purchase coverage through the NFIP.”

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Any household within an eligible community may purchase a policy. In Maryland, the only communities not currently participating are Friendship Heights, Laytonsville, and North Chevy Chase, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Even though the NFIP is administered by the Federal Government, many local agents and insurers participate in the program by selling and issuing flood insurance policies. The average flood insurance policy premium is around $650 a year. In moderate-to-low-risk areas, residents can protect their properties with lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at $129 a year. Additional coverage is needed to insure the contents of a dwelling that may be damaged by flooding. Premiums are based on the value of the home’s contents. Generally, there is a 30-day waiting period before new flood insurance policies take effect.

Learn more about flood risk by visiting http://www.FloodSmart.gov or calling 888-379-9531. Consumers also may read about Insurance Preparedness for Natural Disasters on the Maryland Insurance Administration’s website.

About the Maryland Insurance Administration

The Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) is an independent State agency charged with regulating Maryland’s $26 billion insurance industry. For more information about the MIA, please visit www.mdinsurance.state.md.us.

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