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Many policyholders do not realize that basic homeowners insurance does not include protection from flood damage. Instead, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers flood insurance through a federal program. Flood insurance may be purchased as a separate policy.
Many people mistakenly believe that if a flood were to hit, standard homeowner's insurance would cover the cost to recover. It doesn't. National Flood Insurance does, for an average cost of about $1 a day, depending on where you live and the coverage you choose.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a federally subsidized program that is available to any property owner whether or not the building is in a floodplain. Insurance is sold through a private insurance agent who wants to sell it in a community who has joined the program. The NFIP is based on an agreement between local communities and the federal government which states that if a community will implement measures to reduce future flood risks to new construction or substantial re-construction, the federal government will make flood insurance available within the community as financial protection against flood losses which do occur.
July, 2012: Special note to residents of Waldo Canyon, Colorado Springs, and High Park, Larimer County:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on July 10 that residents affected by flooding as a result of these wildfires could be eligible for an exception from the 30-day waiting period usually required for flood insurance coverage. The exception is under the following conditions:
properties affected by flooding on federal land
where the flooding is caused, or exacerbated by post-wildfire conditions on federal land,
flood insurance is purchased no later than 60 days after the wildfire containment date.
Exemptions will be determined on a case-by-case basis; contact your insurance agent for more information.
How do you know if your home is vulnerable to flood?
Floods Can and Do Happen in High, Medium and Low-Risk Flood Zones
One never knows where or when a flood will strike. They often accompany other natural disasters such as storms, hurricanes, early snowmelts, and rising rivers. Plus, the construction of roads, shopping malls, residential and industrial complexes reduces the land's natural ability to absorb water, which increases runoff and the risk of flooding. About 25% of all flood insurance claims come from outside high-risk areas.
In 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Administration is updating the nation's Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). These maps help private citizens, insurance companies and brokers, and lending institutions locate properties and buildings to determine the amount of flood risk and whether flood insurance is required. More than 100,000 FIRMS have been published; go here to see if you are in a flood-prone area,
Flood insurance is actually quite affordable. But that has yet to increase its popularity. According to insure.com, only one-quarter of the most vulnerable homes are insured, even though statistics have shown that their homes are much more likely to be flooded than be destroyed by fire.
Prices depend entirely on the amount of coverage you wish to purchase and the area where your home is located. Coverage choices can include insuring the contents of your home as well as the structure of the building.
Building coverage insures a house or dwelling, attached and detached garages, as well as certain permanently installed fixtures such as built-in dishwashers, permanent shelving and cabinetry, furnaces and radiators, hot-water heaters, plumbing fixtures, stoves, ovens and refrigerators. *For details about what National Flood Insurance covers, contact your company or agent.
National Flood Insurance covers structural elements, essential equipment and other basic items normally located in a basement, such as:
Unfinished drywall for walls and ceilings, including nonflammable insulation
Electrical junction and circuit breaker boxes, and required utility connections
Central air-conditioning units
Furnaces, hot-water heaters, fuel tanks and the fuel inside them, and heat pumps
However, National Flood Insurance doesn't cover basement improvements such as finished walls, floors or ceilings, or personal belongings that may be kept in a basement, such as furniture and other contents.
Contents coverage insures most of your personal property and belongings, including:
Furniture, housewares, bedding
Decorative items, lamps and lighting fixtures
Books, home electronics
Area rugs and draperies
Clothes washers and dryers
Food freezers and the food in them
Portable microwave ovens
The maximum coverage available for contents is $100,000 for residential policies and $500,000 for commercial policies.
How do I buy flood insurance?
Who is eligible for National Flood Insurance?
How long until my flood insurance goes into effect?
There is usually a 30-day waiting period, after applying and paying the premium, before the flood insurance policy becomes effective. Ask your insurance agent if there are any exceptions in your case. Do not wait until the rain starts to think about flood insurance.
You can purchase flood coverage at anytime; however, a flood policy does not cover a loss in progress. A loss in progress is one already happening as of 12:01 A.M. of the first day of the policy term.
Coverage is available for homeowners, renters, business owners, and condominium associations and owners.
Up to $250,000 of building coverage and $100,000 of contents coverage are available to protect your home and its contents.
Condominium Associations and Owners:
Condominium associations can purchase flood insurance coverage on a residential building under the Residential Condominium Building Association Policy. Under this policy, condominium associations can purchase up to $250,000 times the number of units or the replacement cost of the building, whichever is less. This way, coverage is provided for each unit without the burden of purchasing policies for each unit separately. Eligible buildings include garden apartment-type construction, town houses, row houses, and single-family detached buildings owned by the association, as long as 75% of the units are used for residential purposes. Residents of the individual units are then advised to purchase contents coverage separately-up to $100,000-to ensure that their personal property will be covered.
You don't have to own your own house or apartment to protect your contents from floodwaters. Up to $100,000 of NFIP contents coverage is available to renters of insurable property in a community participating in the NFIP.