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Do you need flood insurance? Only 12 percent of Americans have it

Do you need flood insurance? Only 12 percent of Americans have it. (ABC7)

It's difficult to fathom the billions of dollars in losses as Houston homeowners’ properties are drowning in floodwaters.

Most of us assume that it will never happen to us.

“I would say Americans are woefully underinsured,” Tom Santos with the American Insurance Association told 7 On Your Side.

You might expect Santos to say that. But he argues, you’re going to get paid a lot more and a lot faster with insurance as opposed to relying on federal funding for flood victims. Plus the national flood insurance cap on reimbursements is $250,000. For some, that doesn't cover the driveway.

Only 12 percent of Americans have flood insurance, approximately 103,000 homeowners in Virginia, 66,000 in Maryland, and just 2,000 in DC.

Santos describes the risk in the DMV as fairly considerable. He points to the devastating and deadly flooding in Ellicott City on Main Street just last year, the expensive flooding of Georgetown’s waterfront in 2011, and the frequent flooding in Old Town, Alexandria, almost any time it rains hard.

“Every community should talk to their insurance agent and be mindful about whether your property is low lying, near a river or stream, or behind a damn or levy.”

Historically, Washington has been underwater before: Pennsylvania Avenue in 1889 .. the Navy Yard in 1936 ... The Jefferson Memorial in 1942 ... Great Falls Park, 1996, where the Potomac rose 85 feet in 45 hours ... And 2006, when the National Archives’ theatre flooded.

On FEMA's website, you can input your modern day address to assess your risk of flooding. But the site may not give you enough information to make the call on flood insurance. The industry and the government are working on that.

“One of the things we haven't done or communicated well is what the risk is to consumers,” said Santos.

CHECK YOUR FLOOD RISK

WARNING FROM FTC ABOUT FAKE FLOOD INSURANCE CALLS

MYTHS & FACTS ABOUT THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM


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