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Washington, D.C., As hurricane season begins, FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program strongly encourages homeowners to purchase a flood insurance policy to financially protect their investments from the damaging floods these storms can cause. The risk is real; experts recently released predictions for an active 2006 season, with 13-16 named storms and the potential for four to six major hurricanes.

"Memories of the most active and costliest hurricane season are still fresh in the minds of all Americans. The storms of 2005 proved a painful reminder that many homeowners lack adequate flood protection. We are urging people to learn their flood risk, and protect themselves," said David Paulison, Acting Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The time to purchase a flood insurance policy is now; there is typically a 30-day wait before a policy takes effect.

"Flooding is not covered by your typical homeowners insurance policy. Flood insurance is a vital investment to ensure that residents have adequate protection against the devastation flooding can cause. If you live in a high-risk area (special flood hazard area), you need to be covered by flood insurance. However, last year's storms also showed us first-hand that flooding can also happen outside of the high-risk areas. Floods can happen anywhere, anytime, so everyone should consider flood insurance," said David Maurstad, Federal Insurance Administrator and Director of FEMA's Mitigation Division.

The risk of hurricanes reaches beyond the Gulf Coast and Southeastern U.S. Many scientists predict the Northeast is long overdue for a major hurricane. In the Northeast, damage predicted from a large hurricane comes more from the magnitude of its storm surge and less from its winds. A flood insurance policy will cover flooding from tidal surge where other insurance policies may not.

Inland flooding is also a major concern during hurricane season. As all hurricanes weaken to tropical storms and move inland, the threat of torrential rains and high winds over large areas intensify the risks of flooding. A tropical storm can produce more rainfall than a Category 5 hurricane, but just inches of water can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

Flood insurance is affordable and available through 88 insurance companies in more than 21,000 participating communities nationwide. National Flood Insurance is available to renters, business owners, and homeowners. The average flood insurance policy premium is around $500 a year. And in moderate-to-low risk areas, homeowners can protect their properties with lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at just $112 a year. Individuals can learn more about their flood risk by visiting or calling 1-800-427-2419.

Flood insurance is mandatory if you live in a high-risk area and have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.
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For flood insurance rating purposes, a primary residence is a building that will be lived in by the insured or the insured's spouse for at least 80 percent of the 365 days following the policy effective date. If the building will be lived in for less than 80 percent of the policy year, it is considered to be a non-primary residence.

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Last Updated: Sunday, 13-Apr-2014, 4:36 PM (EDT)

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