Flood insurance lapse adds to residents' concerns

March 31, 2010 5:01:42 AM PDT
On top of the flooding, some homeowners have something else to worry about.A federal program created to help buy flood insurance has expired, along with some policies, and Congress is on vacation. Now, while the Passaic River is threatening homes in Wayne, the sheriff says his department is prepared, just in case residents have to confront more heartbreak.

"People are quite concerned and worried as a result of more rain," sheriff Jerry Speciale said.

Adding to their frustration is the prospect of not being covered by their flood insurance, thanks to the uncertainty created by the expiration of the National Flood Insurance program.

One concerned Passaic County resident wondered if she had to wait until Congress returns to get flood insurance? And what happens to her if the Passaic River overflows and floods her house?

It turns out that insurance agents aren't writing new flood insurance policies right now. One major insurance company is telling their agents to hold off on writing new policies, since Congress has adjourned without re-authorizing the National Flood Insurance program beyond the current expiration date.

But there are ways you can protect your property.

Little Falls insurance agent Charles Hahn says if you need flood insurance now, talk to an agent and fill out an application.

And if your policy is up for renewal, pay it.

"If that renewal date is after March 28, which is when the plan expired, then you will have coverage based on the policy renewal date," he said.

Congress has allowed the Flood Insurance Program to expire before. But for it to happen now is too much for some New Jersey homeowners, who with high water pushing up to their homes, have enough to worry about.