The Changing Rules of Flood Insurance

New maps may put your home in the zone for flood insurance.

Flood insurance doesn't grab the headlines like, say, health-care reform does. Yet it's got all the elements of a front-burner issue. Inland homeowners caught by surprise by the recent deluges in Tennessee and New England are angry that they weren't sold flood insurance, while communities across the country are up in arms as new flood maps sweep them into insurance-required zones.

Meanwhile, questions swirl about the future solvency of the federal government-run insurance program, which covers 5.5 million properties. Intended to be supported by policy premiums, it now owes Uncle Sam almost $19 billion. And although Washington politicians debate badly needed long-term reforms, the program limps along on successive rounds of short-term funding. In the past year, the National Flood Insurance Program has lapsed (meaning no policies could be sold) three times. The most recent interruption came in June, just as hurricane season opened with forecasters calling for three to seven major storms this year.

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Anne Kates Smith
Executive Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Anne Kates Smith brings Wall Street to Main Street, with decades of experience covering investments and personal finance for real people trying to navigate fast-changing markets, preserve financial security or plan for the future. She oversees the magazine's investing coverage,  authors Kiplinger’s biannual stock-market outlooks and writes the "Your Mind and Your Money" column, a take on behavioral finance and how investors can get out of their own way. Smith began her journalism career as a writer and columnist for USA Today. Prior to joining Kiplinger, she was a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report and a contributing columnist for TheStreet. Smith is a graduate of St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., the third-oldest college in America.