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In Wake Of Hurricane Ida, Emergency Officials Urge Pennsylvania Homeowners To Get Flood Insurance

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- With up to six inches of rain possible in this region on Wednesday as Hurricane Ida passes through, the risk of flood damage to homes will be greater than ever.

But one thing most homeowners do not have is flood insurance.

With climate change seemingly increasing the risk of water-related weather events, one study estimates that flood damage alone this year could top $20 billion. Sadly, the standard homeowner's policy does not cover this loss. Property owners must buy flood insurance separately.

"I absolutely, 100 percent, recommend that residents in Pennsylvania obtain flood insurance," Stephen Bekanich, deputy director of recovery for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.

Bekanich said flooding is no longer a problem just for those near streams and rivers.

"Just about anywhere in the commonwealth is susceptible to flooding," said the PEMA official.

In a recent letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Gov. Tom Wolf noted that 96 percent of flooding in the state occurred outside of established flood plains.

"With the ground being as saturated as it is lately, you can flood anywhere," said Donna Simms, a local insurance agent.

Insurance agents like Simms say you either buy unlimited flood insurances from private insurance companies or the somewhat limited federal government's National Flood Insurance Program.

"There is only a maximum amount of $250,000 that you can get for your dwelling and $100,000 for your content," Simms said.

Depending on where you live, the monthly premium for federal flood insurance is about $84 a month.

While flood insurance won't cover everything, like your car, things outside like decks and patios, and your living expenses after the flood, it will cover almost all water damage inside your home.

"It is a safety blanket that every resident within Pennsylvania should have," Bekanich said.

Unless a private insurance company waives the delay, most companies and the feds require a 30-day waiting period before the coverage kicks in. That means it's too late to buy insurance to protect against Ida, but we all know another storm is just around the corner.

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