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FEMA urges people to buy flood insurance before hurricane season

The Federal Emergency Management Agency still has open disaster events throughout Florida in the Panhandle and Keys from last year. With the 2019 hurricane season about to begin, FEMA's chief executive of the National Flood Insurance Program publicly called for people to improve their disaster readiness. He reminded people that regular homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. They should buy flood insurance to reduce suffering after a disaster.

The increasing threat of severe storms because of rising sea levels and climate change motivated his recommendation. With FEMA still reeling from last year's disasters throughout the country, a hurricane strike in Florida could overwhelm an already strained system. Federal officials hope that flood insurance for more homeowners could cut down on demands for disaster recovery funds.

Although the advice makes sense, Congress has not solved problems with funding at FEMA or NFIP. The flood insurance program produced a $25 billion deficit last year. Flood insurance premiums paid by Floridians represented 35% of the program's policies. Florida property owners, however, have only received 7% of payouts in the past 40 years.

A person reeling in the aftermath of a disaster might have trouble collecting a settlement from a public or private insurer. Consulting an attorney may help a person plot the next step when an insurer denies a claim, does not respond or makes excessive demands. An attorney might examine the policy and inform the person about benefits available for hurricane damage claims. Legal guidance may also allow the person to follow the necessary steps for appealing a decision without accidentally jeopardizing a claim. At times, a case calls for litigation, and an attorney might manage the details of going to court.

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