Inch by inch, New York’s waters are rising. It’s forcing the region and insurers to redefine the areas at risk.
New York is bracing for a future where floods may be more common. New York City, for example, has 520 miles of waterfront and contains many low-lying neighborhoods, two facts which make it a sitting duck for the worst water can throw at it.
What constitutes a flood risk zone is a shifting measurement, with areas once considered safe now entering the ratings at a low to moderate status. The situation will force insurers to reassess premiums for housing, auto, and even life coverage for New Yorkers in affected zones. And flood insurance must be specifically bought from the government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The deepening floodwater problem
The New York Times reports that flooding is going to be a battle on multiple fronts. First, there are the steps New Yorkers must consider to shore up neighborhoods against residential water damage. Businesses must also look at proactive measures that may be essential for their professional survival.
New York’s neighborhoods are in no hurry to be classified as flood risk zones, especially those entering the listings for the first time. Residents must accept that insurers now see them, their homes, and their vehicles as being higher risks—and pay higher premiums. They can also take expensive anti-flood steps to limit their liability and there are programs designed to help residents recover if a flood strikes.
In New Jersey, the state has instituted a Blue Acres Buyout Program to purchase flood-damaged properties from residents at pre-flood prices. It’s far from a perfect solution, as a buyout can take a long time and residents often begin to rebuild with National Flood Insurance Program payments in the interim. Home values have dropped $6.5 billion due to flooding in the tri-state area since 2005.
Overall, the situation is a higher-risk picture with only two certainties—floods will happen, and providers will see those in the danger zones as more costly insurance propositions.
How can New Yorkers fight flooding?
The best ways to prepare and get a jump on potential premium hikes is to accept these dangers, stay well-informed, and take out flood insurance. The FEMA Flood Map lets users know the exact situation in their area and offers links to many other essential resources at the bottom of the page.
FEMA also reminds New Yorkers that even if they’re in a low to moderate risk zone, they’re still more likely to experience a flood than a fire in the years ahead. Flood insurance can only be purchased in those areas aligned with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and 1,466 communities currently participate. If yours does not, contact NFIP directly for guidance. Be advised that there is typically a waiting period of 30 days before coverage is activated.
Flood insurance can be expensive but there are ways to potentially reduce the cost. Your entire community may receive lower rates if it’s part of NFIP’s Community Rating System, which offers assistance grant programs to spur involvement and preparation.
Homeowners may wish to individually take the preemptive measures laid out in FEMA’s guide. The more measures they are willing to implement, the more likely they are to save on insurance. Savings are primarily linked to home elevation. Lifting a property by a foot could mean a 30 percent savings on flood insurance premiums, whereas 3 feet increases the savings to 60 percent.
Read this additional FEMA guide to learn more steps that address the risk of a flood. And make sure to take out flood insurance if you are eligible.
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