While Maine is not a state typically known for flood problems, extremely damaging floods do strike here from time to time. Residents who do not have flood insurance may find themselves facing unmanageably expensive cleanup, repair and replacement costs. Unfortunately, most residents of Maine do not have coverage against these events. If you are among them, you may want to consider at least checking out some flood insurance quotes. It actually costs little to protect your property against this natural disaster.
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Maine Flood Facts
- Major floods occur in Maine every season, but most frequently in the spring.
- Heavy snowmelt, coupled with steady rainfall, is the cause of most floods in ME.
- On April 30, 1979, the St. John River basin flooded causing severe damage to homes and businesses in Fort Kent and Van Buren that totaled $650,000.
- In 2008, the St. John River flooded in Canada, forcing 600 residences in Maine to evacuate.
- One of the worst floods to hit Maine occurred on April 1, 1987:
- 2,100 homes flooded.
- Of these 2,100 homes, the flooding severely damaged 240 and destroyed 215.
- Damage exceeded $100 million.
Why Do Residents of Maine Need Flood Insurance?
Many people assume that flood damage coverage is included in their home, renters or business insurance policies. Unfortunately, it is not. If an overflow event destroys your property, you must cover the damage on your own unless you have flood insurance. If the flood disaster covers a large area and is severe, FEMA may step in to provide assistance, but this help comes only in the form of low interest loans that you must repay to the government.
The following events can increase the risk of floods in Maine:
- Hurricanes or tropical storms that work their way north dropping lots of rainfall over an extended period of time
- Snowmelts in the spring when they coincide with heavy rains
- Nor’easters that work their way up the Eastern Seaboard
FEMA estimates that as little as two inches of floodwater in a 1,000 square foot home can cause about $10,000 in damage. A flooded basement can result in the need to replace appliances that you typically have in your basement, such as your furnace and hot water heater, as well as repair structural damage and remove mold.
If the floodwaters rise to aboveground floors, the damage becomes far more expensive because the flooding will often damage your personal belongings, such as electronics and furnishings, beyond repair, requiring you to replace them. FEMA reports that the average paid flood insurance claim in the U.S. is approximately $35,000.
What Is the NFIP?
Flood damage can be extremely expensive – too expensive for homeowners insurance providers to cover without raising rates significantly. By the 1950s, most home insurance companies had excluded flood coverage from their policies. Unfortunately, this left many homeowners and communities financially devastated when floods destroyed their property.
For this reason, the U.S. Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, in 1968. The NFIP protects property owners from the overwhelming financial hardships flood damage can bring. The federal government backs all policies, thus guaranteeing coverage. Although this program operates at a loss, it has saved the country billions of dollars in bankruptcy claims.
The government cannot turn you down for a flood insurance policy because you live in a high-risk area or increase your rates if you file a claim. Flood insurance policies have standard rates across the country; your level of flood risk – determined by the flood maps in your area – and the amount of coverage you purchase determine your rates.
The NFIP works through local agents, so you can purchase a policy from the same insurance agent that you buy your auto or home coverage from. The average flood policy in Maine costs as little as $1 a day – a small price to pay to protect the investment you have made in your home, business or personal property.
Flood Insurance Facts in ME as Reported by FEMA
- There are currently 9,024 flood insurance policies in effect in this state.
- Less than 1% of the residents in Maine have flood insurance.
- Residents in this state filed 55 flood insurance claims in 2012.
- These claims totaled $670,310.
- That equates to an average of about $12,187 per claim.
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
Flood insurance offers policies for both residential and commercial properties. Each policy includes two types of coverage, one for the structure of the building and one for the contents kept within. You have the option to purchase either one or both, depending on your coverage needs. Most homeowners opt to purchase both while renters need only purchase contents coverage:
- Building coverage: This will compensate you for damage to the building and its foundation, as well as to its plumbing and electrical systems, furnaces and air conditioning units, built-in appliances and any permanently installed carpeting over unfinished floors. This coverage is limited to a maximum of $250,000 for residential policies and $500,000 for commercial policies.
- Contents coverage: This will compensate you for loss or damage to property in your home or business including furnishings, clothing, artwork, electronics, window air conditioners, portable appliances and carpeting and flooring. Flood insurance will not cover contents kept in the finished basement of a home. This coverage is limited to a maximum of $100,000 for residential policies and $500,000 for commercial policies.
Get Flood Insurance Quotes from an Agent in Maine
Although the federal government provides flood insurance, you must purchase it through a qualified insurance provider. Securing a flood insurance policy for your home is easy with the help of a Trusted Choice® network agent. These independent insurance agents can help you determine how much coverage you need and can provide you with information about how much you can expect to pay for different levels of coverage.
Flood insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect so do not wait until a disaster is imminent. Find an agent in or near your neighborhood in Maine to get more information and to start reviewing flood insurance quotes.