If you were one of the thousands of residents on Long Island affected by Superstorm Sandy, and who received federal disaster aid grants without having a flood insurance policy in force when the storm struck, congratulations…you now have flood insurance. Weren’t you wondering where that $600 (which was deducted from your grant check) went? 🙂

The $600 deduction served as your “premium” for three years of enrollment with the National Flood Insurance Program (or NFIP), which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (or FEMA). The maximum coverage this automatic enrollment into the program will provide a resident is $31,900, which can be used for damage to your dwelling and/or contents replacement. As you no doubt have figured out, $31,900 is hardly enough to cover homeowners on Long Island should another storm like Sandy strikes the area. And this will happen again. The question is: When? Additionally, if you do not take out a new flood insurance policy after your automatically enrolled 3-year policy expires, and you suffer another flood loss from a major storm, you will not be eligible to receive federal disaster aid.

As we all now know, thousands of Long Island homeowners did not carry flood insurance when Sandy struck the area. While banks have always required new home purchasers of coastal property to carry flood insurance to obtain a mortgage loan, it’s the people that satisfied their mortgages long ago who dropped their flood policies. There are also many landlords who bought their properties with cash, where they were not faced with being required with purchasing flood insurance. For many reasons, people just decided not to carry flood insurance.

The time is now for you to consider taking out a flood insurance policy that will provide you with ample coverage should you suffer surface water-related property damage…whether you were affected by Sandy or not. Again, the coverage limits provided by the automatic enrollment into the plan are very low, but it’s a far better situation to be in as opposed to being uninsured. However, you can modify your existing flood policy (or take out a new one) to increase coverage limits for dwelling damage, as well as contents replacement. Contact an insurance broker on Long Island to get you quoted and enrolled with a flood policy.

For more information about the National Flood Insurance Program and this automatic enrollment into the NFIP, visit the FEMA website. Remember: Homeowners insurance does not cover losses caused by flooding of surface waters.