CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As the three year anniversary of the 2016 flood draws near there is a key stipulation coming for flood victims which they may or may not realize.
During the aftermath of the high water, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was on the ground in West Virginia and offered settlement checks to help victims begin the recovery. One of the stipulations on the aid was a requirement of flood insurance on the property involved. Initially, FEMA offered a three year flood policy for free, but now those policies are about to expire and must be converted to private policies. Property owners must pick up the tab from here out.
“You have to convert that policy into a privately paid flood insurance policy in at least the amount you got for your property,” said West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jim Dodrill. “If you don’t convert that policy, the next time there’s a flood, FEMA will not provide relief.”
Dodrill said the stipulation of no future assistance is not well known and could leave some home owners with no options in the next high water event. But the coverage is costly and many who received FEMA assistance don’t have a lot to begin with. Some are still trying to figure out a path forward with no permanent replacement for their home. According to Dodrill in many cases it comes down to paying for flood insurance or day to day expenses. He added making the policy even more difficult is a requirement that payment be made up front.
“All of these policies are paid in full up front,” he said. “Not a lot of folks in West Virginia or anywhere can afford to pay their insurance bill in full and up front.”
There are 549 of the FEMA provided flood insurance policies which were issued as a result of the June 2016 flood event. All of them will expire on August 24. Dodrill and the state Insurance Commission are trying to make flood victims aware of the policy stipulations, but the fine print could also impact selling the property. According to Dodrill the stipulation follows the land, not the owner.
“If they don’t get it (the insurance) it’s not going to just affect them, it’s going to affect anyone down the road who owns that property,” Dodrill said.
Those considering buying property in the flood plane are encouraged to inquire about the previous owners’ history with FEMA. The FEMA assistance is NOT a required disclosure prior to a property sale.