Affected by the flooding in Eastern KY? Here’s what you need to know about insurance, what it covers

As flood waters recede in parts of Eastern Kentucky, people are turning their attention to cleaning up and taking stock of their property. A question that may be coming to the top of people’s heads is: Do I have flood insurance? If so, what does it cover?

Here is a look at the many flood insurance programs and the answer to those questions.

What is the National Flood Insurance Program?

The Flood Insurance Program was established by Congress in 1968 as a way to spread the risk of flooding and control or manage certain development within the mountains. It is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agencythe program provides basic flood protection to more than 5 million people with home, property and building society policies.

Interested parties in all 50 states are eligible to purchase policy through the NFIP if their local government or region participates in the program.

Most homeowner’s and commercial policies do not cover flood-related damage (or only provide such coverage through premium policies), making the federal program especially important for those who live in flood-prone or flood-prone areas.

The NFIP is funded by a mix of funding, government grants and borrowing. In recent years, it has borrowed heavily to pay for hurricanes, most notably, the Congressional Research Service reports, during the 2005 hurricane season — which included Hurricane Katrina — and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

NFIP owes more than $20.5 billion from the US Treasury, the CRS said in a December report. In fiscal 2020, the program paid out more than $438 million in interest.

The federal program requires periodic reauthorization by Congress. It’s valid now until September 30th.

What does the Federal flood policy cover?

The coverage can insure buildings and their contents, depending on the type of policy, in the event of a flood, which FEMA defines as “excess water on land that is normally dry.”

These policies meet the following limitations:

  • Single-family homes and two- to four-family homes – $250,000 for construction and $100,000 for interiors.
  • Other residential buildings – $500,000 for structure and $100,000 for contents.
  • Non-residential – $500,000 for design and $500,000 for contents.

Additional training can be obtained privately.

Unlike disaster relief through FEMA, flood insurance holders can make a claim even for events that do not constitute a disaster declaration.

The Biden administration approved a disaster declaration for 13 counties in Eastern Kentucky on Friday.

Once purchased, the policies have a 30-day waiting period before they can be processed.

Do I need flood insurance? What is my flood zone?

When NFIP policies exist both inside and outside the floodplainthose with subsidized mortgages and in certain special flood risk areas may be required to have a flood policy.

FEMA’s flood insurance maps (FIRMs) show high-risk areas as areas starting with A or V.

Additionally, those in high-risk areas who have received disaster relief from FEMA or the US Small Business Administration must have flood insurance to qualify for future relief.

You can search for FIRMs related to your property through FEMA mapping site.

What do Kentucky flood fees look like?

According to FEMA, flood policies in Kentucky cost $796 a year. For high-risk areas, this figure rises to $1,713.

Fees are calculated based on a number of factors, including the type of policy, individual risk and location.

A 2019 flood insurance report from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet shows there were about 20,000 flood insurance policies in Kentucky that year, collecting $20.4 million annually.

Compensation varies, but FEMA reports that most claims in the US in 2018 exceeded $40,000.

Depreciation is also helpful in calculating the premiums. Some communities may participate in programs such as the Community Rating System to lower costs for policyholders.

What if I don’t have flood insurance?

Those who do not have flood insurance may still be eligible for federal aid.

FEMA announced in a news release late Saturday that President Joe Biden has approved disaster relief for people in Breathitt, Clay, Knott, Letcher and Perry counties.

Assistance may include grants for temporary housing and renovations, low-interest loans to pay off unsecured property and other programs to help rehabilitate.

Residents and business owners who have property damaged by flooding can begin applying for assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.

FEMA said homeowners and renters should have the following information when applying for assistance:

  • Mobile phone number.
  • Your address at the time of the disaster and your current address.
  • Your Social Security number.
  • List of damaged and damaged products.
  • Bank details if you choose direct deposit.
  • If insured, policy number or provider and/or company name.

If you have homeowner’s, renter’s or flood insurance, you need to pay off the debt as soon as possible. FEMA cannot reimburse for insured losses. If your policy does not cover all of your damages, you may be eligible for federal assistance.

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Jackie Starkey is a journalism editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Center Daily Times and the Belleville News-Democrat. He is a graduate of UNC Asheville and previously worked for the Carteret County News-Times in coastal North Carolina. He lives at the Herald-Leader in Lexington.