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by Mike Mastro, President/CEO Firefighters First Credit Union

El Nino is here . . . Don’t wait to get flood insurance! D

evastating floods related to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Mississippi River in 2011, and Hurricane Irene and Su-

perstorm Sandy in 2012 raised awareness of the dangers and costs of flooding. Such a disas- ter is among the most common and expensive natural disasters in the United States with aver- age annual economic losses of $50 billion. And with the presence of an “El Nino,” its effects can significantly influence weather patterns, providing warm weather for some, yet wreak- ing havoc for others. If you currently have flood insurance,

this may be a good time to review your cover- age, especially with program changes made in 2015. If you are not insured for potential flood damage, you may want to consider appropri- ate coverage for your situation. Nearly 25% of federal flood insurance claims are filed outside of high-risk areas.

From the ground up Damage due to water in your home from a leaking pipe or a hole in your roof — water that comes from the top down — is typi- cally covered by your homeowners insurance policy. However, damage from water that en- ters from the ground up is excluded from most homeowners policies and requires a separate flood insurance policy. In many communities, flood insurance

can be purchased through the federal govern- ment’s National Flood Insurance


(NFIP), either directly or — more commonly — from private insurance companies who work with the NFIP. An NFIP policy provides up to $250,000 in replacement cost coverage to rebuild the structure as it was before the dam-

age, while possessions are covered for up to $100,000 of their actual cash value (replace- ment cost minus depreciation). Renters may purchase a policy that covers only their belong- ings. Some private insurers might offer cover- age with higher limits. To be considered a flood for insurance

purposes, water must cover at least two acres or affect two properties. Typically, there is a 30- day waiting period before flood coverage goes into effect, so property owners should not wait until there is an imminent threat to buy flood insurance.

Assessing the risk Although floods caused by big storms, hurricanes, and raging rivers tend to get the headlines, floods may also result from other, more common factors including blocked drain- age systems, spring snow thaw, ice jams, and even a hard rain.

Of course, some areas are more likely

to flood than others. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) calculates the degree of risk in your community based on as- sessments of rainfall, topography, tidal surge, flood control measures, and other variables. Flood-hazard maps (many of which are cur- rently under review) are used to help commu- nities identify the risk levels, depicting areas of high risk, moderate to low risk, or unde- termined risk. Flood insurance premiums are based on the level of risk indicated on FEMA’s flood-hazard maps.

Better safe than sorry Although the benefits of insurance can- not be felt until after an unfortunate event, it

is better to overestimate the coverage on your insurance now than risk the possibility of being financially responsible later. By taking steps to review your insurance policies and make ad- justments (if needed), you have the ability to stop a bad situation from getting worse.

Let Firefighter Insurance Services

(FIS), Firefighters First Credit Union’s insur- ance agency (created specifically to benefit our members), evaluate your insurance coverage to verify if you are adequately protected, at the right price. The professionals at FIS can also assist you with your auto, RV, motorcycle, life, and business insurance needs. Contact an FIS Representative at (800) 231-1626 or visit www., or stop by the main office.

The more business we do together as a Fire Family,

the greater the financial reward will be for all members!

Have a safe month!

Mike Mastro President/CEO

Firefighters Insurance Services, License # 0G87848 Material provided is for your information and convenience only.

March 2016 • 49

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