Monday, October 11, 2010

Get Flood Insurance While Rates Are Low!


ST. HELENS–Columbia County is urging residents affected by the new and recently-approved Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps to get insurance before November 25th, the day before the new maps take effect.

Columbia County recently completed the process of reviewing and renewing flood maps, which help identify hazard zones and high-risk properties that would be eligible for flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Some properties that were not in the flood plain in the past are now listed as in the flood plain, which means those residents may need to purchase a NFIP flood insurance policy.

Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde says that residents who were not in the flood plain on the old maps can get flood insurance before the November 25th deadline at a lower rate. “It costs much less than buying the insurance after November 25th and you can grandfather the rate in future years so that the increase is not so expensive.”

According to Glen Higgins, flood plain administrator for the county, if your dwelling has historically been mapped as out of the Flood Hazard area and now with the new maps are in, then you should purchase flood insurance prior to the November 25, 2010 deadline, so you qualify for Preferred Risk Policy. This Preferred Risk rate can be continued on that policy for a period of two years as long as the insurance policy is kept current. After two renewals, your policy will transition to a standard rate schedule, but because you bought a policy when your dwelling was out of the flood hazard area, you can grandfather to the “out of the flood zone” rate, or use the new zone rate whichever is less expensive for you.

Those with mortgages may be forced by their lenders to purchase the flood insurance because standard home insurance does not cover flood insurance, according to Derek White, the county’s emergency management director. “All folks in the flood plain are highly encouraged to get flood insurance even if they don’t have a mortgage company requiring them to do so as home insurance doesn’t cover flooding,” White states.

White also added that NFIP policies will pay claims even when federal disaster help is not eligible. “We had flooding in Clatskanie in January 2009 that did not meet the requirements for a federal disaster declaration. Those who had flood insurance were still able to get assistance with claims they filed and others were unable to get any kind of recovery assistance.”

For more information on the NFIP, go to or call 1-888-379-9531. You may also call Glen at 503-397-7217.