National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was set up as a means to provide flood protection to homeowners, renters, and business owners. Participation in the program is based on an agreement between a local community and the Federal Government, which states if a community adopts and enforces a floodplain management ordinance and undertakes activities to reduce flood risks, the Federal Government will make flood insurance available. In order to provide coverage to our citizens, St. James Parish is a participant in the NFIP. Additionally, the Parish has implemented several services and activities to achieve a better class rating for our flood insurance certification.
Presently, our re-certification as a Class 7 in the Community Rating System (CRS) Program provides a 15% reduction of premiums for all flood insurance premiums within flood zones (Zones A and AE) on structures that were constructed before flood insurance rate maps were adopted and any after the flood insurance rate maps were adopted, but constructed at or above the base flood elevation. Insurance premiums outside of flood zones (Zone X) receive a 5% premium reduction with our CRS rating.
Flood Insurance Coverage
Floods are caused by severe storms, tropical systems, water backup, levee failures, clogged drainage systems, or rapid accumulation of rainfall. One goal of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is to keep people safe and make structures less vulnerable to future flood damages. Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damages. Over the life of a typical 30-year mortgage, homes in high risk areas have a 26% or greater chance of being flooded. That is 2.5 times greater than loss from a fire. Flood insurance is available to you no matter where you live, even if you live in a high flood risk area or an area that traditionally does not flood. Nearly 25% of all flood insurance claims are from structures outside high risk areas.
If you choose to purchase flood insurance, there is a 30-day waiting period for a flood insurance policy’s effective date; therefore, you cannot purchase flood insurance immediately before an approaching tropical storm. Flood insurance coverage is available to all owners and occupants of insurable property (buildings and/or contents) within St. James Parish. The Parish encourages all residents and businesses to consider purchasing flood insurance.To find an agent near you, call NFIP at 888-379-9531. To inquire about the flood history of a property, you can call the Parish Permitting Office at 225-562-2370.
Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act Surcharge
As of April 1, 2015, every new or renewed policy will include an annual surcharge required by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA). Policies for your primary residence will include a $25 HFIAA surcharge and all other buildings will have a $250 HFIAA surcharge. To ensure the correct renewal surcharge, you will need to complete verification documentation within 30 days of receipt or you will be charged the higher surcharge at renewal. Please contact your insurance agent if your policy is coming up for renewal soon and you have not received the form.
Please keep in mind that you do not have to be in a designated flood zone area to be susceptible to flooding. It is important to note nearly 25% of all flooded properties are located outside designated flood hazard areas. Therefore, everyone should consider purchasing flood insurance and annually evaluate their structures susceptibility to flooding. As communities continue to build and open land becomes developed, more rainwater runoff is forced into our drainage ditches and streets, overloading our present systems and flooding areas that have not flooded before. Rising sea levels, land subsidence, and coastal erosion also contribute to elevated flood levels. This is why it is important to review your situation and pay special attention to changes in and around your property that may adversely affect you.
It is important that we remain focused on the increased threats to our homes and businesses from flooding. We must also be prepared to address the many natural hazards that we are exposed to each and every day, whether it being a severe afternoon thunderstorm or a major hurricane. Everyone should have an emergency preparedness plan and the purchase of flood insurance should be considered as part of your plan.
- Before a community is eligible for disaster assistance, it must be declared a federal disaster area. Federal disaster assistance declarations are issued in less than 50% of flooding events.
- If you were uninsured and received federal disaster assistance after a flood, you must purchase and maintain flood insurance to remain eligible for future disaster relief.
- During a typical 30-year mortgage loan, any structure has a 26% chance of being flooded.
- There is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect.
- The average cost to raise a house is $60 per square-foot for structures on piers or pillows and $85 per square-foot for structures built on concrete slabs.
- Buying flood insurance can reduce future losses.
- Elevating and flood proofing can pay for itself in a few years through a reduction in flood insurance premiums.