Flood Insurance Makes Good Sense for Residents of New Mexico

FEMA News Release

DENTON, Texas -- Most Americans ignore the risks of flooding, assuming they aren't in a flood zone. The reality is, floods are America's number one natural disaster and can happen anytime, anywhere. In fact, 90 percent of all natural disasters in the U.S. involve flooding. That's why federal and state officials are urging residents to buy flood insurance before the next flood hits.

"Even if you weren't flooded recently, you may still be vulnerable to rising water," said Regional Administrator Tony Russell of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "The risk of flooding is almost three times greater than the risk of fire over the period of a 30-year mortgage, yet most people are insured against fire but not floods," Russell noted. "Obviously it makes good sense to insure for both."

In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help individuals insure themselves for a reasonable cost against flooding. Local governments must first agree to participate in the NFIP before its residents can purchase the insurance. Almost 40 years after its creation, NFIP oversees more than 5 million flood insurance policies in more than 20,200 communities across the U.S.

Here are some quick flood statistics for New Mexico residents for 2009:

  • 81 flooding events
  • $27.36 million dollars in property damage

Most people who live in NFIP participating communities - including business owners, homeowners and renters - are eligible to purchase federally-backed flood insurance. A residential building can be insured up to $250,000 and its contents up to $100,000. Renters can cover belongings up to $100,000; and non-residential property owners can insure their buildings up to $500,000, and contents up to $500,000. The premiums for an NFIP policy, averaging about $500 a year, can be less expensive than the monthly payments on a federal disaster loan.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) maintains its Floodsmart Web site (www.floodsmart.gov) so people can assess their vulnerability to flooding, calculate their costs for structure and contents insurance and find nearby agents who sell NFIP policies.

All areas are susceptible to flooding, although to varying degrees. It is advisable to have flood insurance in high risk areas and even in low-to-moderate flood risk areas; last year, one-third of all claims paid by the NFIP were for policies in low-risk communities.

Flood insurance policies do not take effect until 30 days after purchase, so it is important to buy coverage now, before the next flood. There is no waiting period if a policy is purchased at a mortgage closing.

The following is the 2008 list of top 10 states for flood insurance claims. 

State Total Number of 2008 Claims Total 2008 Claims Payments
Texas 35,248 $2,155,876,306
Louisiana 11,795 $426,062,584
Iowa   4,461 $161,216,863
Missouri   3,098 $109,502,641
Illinois   2,893 $106,815,301
Indiana   2,843 $103,873,812
Florida   2,785 $60,885,186
Wisconsin   1,512 $33,639,208
Mississippi   1,315 $30,391,763
North Carolina      699 $17,762,844

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.