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It's Not Too Late: Prepare Your Customers for Flood Risks

Only a month into the 2005 Hurricane Season, tropical systems have already caused extensive coastal and inland damage across the Southeast. FEMA's National Flood Insurance...
August 12, 2005

Only a month into the 2005 Hurricane Season, tropical systems have already caused extensive coastal and inland damage across the Southeast. FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers the following tips for agents to pass on to customers after a flood, with additional tips for filing a claim.

Agents should remind customers who weren't covered in the latest storms that it isn't too late in the season to invest in flood insurance and protect their property from future risk.

For Customers

When You Return Home:

Check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. Don't enter if there is a chance that the building may collapse.

Avoid open flames. Don't use matches, cigarette lighters or other open flames if gas could be trapped inside. If you smell gas or hear hissing, open a window, leave and call the gas company.

Be sure all power is off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.

Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect damage, avoid using the toilets and the tap and call a plumber.

Throw away water-damaged food including canned goods that have come in contact with floodwaters.

Check if water is safe to drink. Until local authorities declare the water supply safe, boil water for drinking and food preparation.

Restore water-damaged books, heirlooms and photographs with tips from: www.fema.gov/hazards/floods/coping.shtm.

For Agents

Get FloodSmart and Minimize Customer Risk:

Remind customers the risk is real. Everyone is at risk for a flood, not just those living in a high-risk area. Twenty to 25 percent of flood insurance claims comes from low- to moderate-risk areas. Direct your customers to FloodSmart.gov to determine their home's risk profile and access flood maps.

Get protected now. A flood insurance policy becomes effective 30 days after it was purchased. If your customers wait for a storm warning before they consider investing in coverage, they won't be protected.

Make sure your policyholders they know what their insurance covers. Many people mistakenly believe homeowners insurance covers floods. Remind your customers without flood insurance that only flood insurance covers losses sustained by a flood.

Educate customers on the affordability of flood insurance. The average flood insurance policy costs around $400 a year. Residents living in low to moderate risk areas can purchase lower cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRP) that starts at as little as $112 a year.

Get the word out to your community to get FloodSmart! The start of hurricane season is an opportune time to educate your community and offer your flood expertise and services.

Use the co-op program. Advertise in your local papers and send direct mail letters to your customers who do not have flood insurance.

Take advantage of all that FloodSmart.gov has to offer. FloodSmart.gov provides insurance agents with many useful tools and resources. The Agents-Only area of the site currently offers information and downloadable assets associated with the NFIP Agent Co-Op Program, the NFIP Agent Referral Program, and an archive of the FloodSmart e-newsletter for agents. Simply visit http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/agentsonly/index.jsp for more information.

Prepared by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

PIA Connection

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2005 PIA Connection.

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