Official press release:

CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY

Exception to 30-day Waiting Period for Flood Insurance Coverage for Private Properties Affected by Flooding on Federal Lands Following the Colorado Wildfires

FEMA Encourages Residents to Purchase Insurance Policies Now July 10, 2012

The Federal Emergency Management Agency today announced, based on consultation with the U.S. Forest Service, residents in Colorado affected by flooding on Federal land from wildfires in Waldo Canyon in the Pike National Forest and in High Park in the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest are subject to an elevated risk of flooding.

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, signed into law Friday, July 6, 2012, by President Obama, may make residents in these communities subjected to an elevated risk of flooding eligible for an exception from the 30-day waiting period usually required for flood insurance coverage. Eligibility for the exception is determined on a case-by-case basis.

FEMA is making this preliminary determination to provide notice to the Write Your Own (WYO) insurance companies and other stakeholders that the recently enacted exception to the 30-day waiting period may be in effect. Individuals and businesses purchasing new insurance policies from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are typically required to wait 30 days for their flood insurance coverage to become effective. The actual determination on the applicability of the exception must be made on a property-by-property basis.

The reform provision in this bill created an exception to that requirement for property that:

• Is affected by flooding on Federal land;

• Is flooded as a result of post-wildfire conditions;

• And where flood insurance was purchased not later than 60 days after the fire containment date.

Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States in terms of lives lost and property damaged. The NFIP provides a means for property owners to protect themselves against the financial effects of flooding, which typically is not covered by standard homeowners insurance. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.

Application of the exception to the 30-day waiting period, however, does not change the NFIP requirements for issuing new policies or filing a claim. Determinations of insurance claims will be made on a policy-by-policy, case-by-case basis. For instance, the exception to the waiting period will not apply if:

• A flood is in progress or flood damage occurs before the application is submitted and the full premium is accepted by the insurer;

• The application for insurance and the full premium is accepted by the insurer later than 60 days after the wildfire’s containment date;

• The flood damage is caused by floodwaters not affected by flooding on Federal lands; or

• The community in which the property is located was not a participating community on or before
60 days after the wildfire’s containment date.

FEMA is aware that other wildfires on Federal land in other States are also uncontained at this time, and we continue to monitor those events to determine eligibility for the exception to the 30-day waiting period. When appropriate, FEMA will issue bulletins identifying communities that have been determined to be at an elevated risk of flooding and the wildfire containment date.

This new law provides a potential way for people with a heightened risk of flooding following a wildfire on federal land to protect their homes and businesses, and we encourage them to explore this option.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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