CBS Local — As Floridians prepare for the potentially devastating effects of Hurricane Irma, many residents are finding they’ve waited too long to file for flood insurance.

According to reports, homeowners seeking to join the National Flood Insurance program won’t be able to take advantage of the protection for a month after signing up.

“People can sign up for flood insurance anytime, any day, but coverage doesn’t begin for 30 days,” said Tim Shaw, president of an insurance company in Florida. “It’s the waiting period. The federal government imposed that,” Shaw added.

MORE: Latest Hurricane Irma Updates From CBS Miami

Basic National Flood insurance policies reportedly cost $450 per year and cover up to $250,000 in damage to the home and up to $100,000 for the person’s belongings. Homeowners living in a flood-prone area would likely pay more, according to insurance experts.

People in the path of Irma might still be able to buy insurance from private insurers with only a three-day waiting period. A Florida law passed in 2014 simplified the process for setting insurance prices. The law allowed private companies to sell several types of flood insurance locally and opened up a new market in the state.

“It’s a new breed of insurance in Florida. You have these companies that have never been tested for flood. We’ll have to see how it works,” said Insurance Information Institute spokeswomen Loretta Worters.

With many Floridians covered by flood insurance expected to be cashing in their policies after Irma, stock prices for home insurer companies plunged on Sept. 5. Irma was upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane that same day.

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