New Yorkers are beginning to take the toll of this week’s devastating floods. After an already traumatic experience, navigating the insurance process can be difficult and overwhelming.
“People affected by floods can have a long road to recovery,” said Thomas Song, director of flood insurance at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Thousands of people face that very fate as they begin to assess the extent of the damage.
“Take pictures and document the damage,” Song said. “Whether it’s for flood insurance or for homeowners.”
That’s after a professional has determined that your home or building is around and safe to enter.
“And we know we’ll salvage what we really need,” Song said. “Legal documents, financial documents.”
FEMA administers the National Flood Insurance Program.
“This was to make government-funded or government-made flood policies available to the public,” Song said.
Costs vary depending on the value of the structure and proximity to flood zones, but on average New Yorkers cost just over $1,000 a year, according to NerdWallet NFIP.
“I think we’re going to see a national trend of less insurance policies or less coverage,” Song said. “I don’t know how much of an impact this will have, but one of the factors I’ll tell you is that we are seeing private insurers entering the market.”
Song stressed that cost is often the reason people shy away from flood insurance, but finding a reliable insurance agent and insurance can make a big difference.
“You don’t have to live next to a river, you don’t have to live next to the ocean. If it rains and there’s an event like this, it can wreak havoc anywhere,” Song said.
More than 40% of the insurance claims supervised by FEMA in the past six years have been attributed to damaged properties outside designated flood zones, Song said.