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Changes in flood insurance law may affect many in New York

Over recent years, news coverage has shown city after city devastated by floods that resulted from heavy rains, hurricanes and even massive snowmelt. Some homeowners living in known flood planes are required by insurance law to purchase flood coverage. However, the RAND corporation estimates that, in one recently devastated city, only about 25 to 45 percent of those homes were covered, possibly leaving thousands of families and individuals with few options. In New York, many homeowners may not realize their own homes are at risk.

With few exceptions, homeowners in New York do not volunteer to purchase flood insurance. It is often expensive, and those who do not live in high risk zones prefer to take their chances. On the other hand, about 16 percent of New York homeowners incorrectly believe their policies include flood insurance. Some found this out only after recent flooding damaged their homes.

Flood zones tend to expand for various reasons, including overdevelopment. The floods themselves wear away natural flood barriers. Those who have not lived in flood zones may find the zones encroaching on their property, or, as in some recent disasters, a flood may occur in an area that is not deemed at-risk. These factors are causing New York lawmakers to consider changes in the conditions for flood insurance, perhaps expanding the requirement to purchase coverage.

Changes in insurance law may bring questions and disputes from customers who wrongly believe they are covered or simply don't understand the limits of their coverage. Those disputes may end up before a judge or arbitrator as customers facing flood damage attempt to claim coverage for which they haven't paid. When this happens, an attorney dedicated to defending insurers will certainly provide an advantage.

Source: washingtonexaminer.com, "Many people in flood-prone areas go without insurance", Sept. 18, 2017

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