Floods can happen anywhere and without warning. 25% of homes with flood claims each year are in low risk zones just like yours. Give yourself and your family the peace of mind of knowing that they are protected should a flood happen. Remember: you are more likely to experience a flood than a fire!
Flooding occurs when water from outside your structure rises and causes damage to your property and impacts at least one other property. The source of the water can be an overflow of inland or tidal waters, the unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source or mudflow.
In simple terms, a flood is an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties. For example, damage caused by a sewer backup is covered if the backup is a direct result of flooding. If the sewer backup is not caused directly by flooding, the damage is not covered.
Floods normally come from three basic sources:
- Storm surge, which backs up rivers and causes tidal waters to inundate the coastal areas;
- Heavy rains that causes flash flooding or overcomes the normal drainage systems in an area; and
- Flooding from rivers or large bodies of water. Flooding can also be caused by failure of man-made flood defenses such as dams, levees, or dikes.
Floods can occur at any time. Flood zones are geographic areas that FEMA has defined according to varying levels of flood risk and can be used as guidance on how frequent flooding is likely to occur. Areas considered as high-risk (A zones) and high-risk coastal (V zones) have a 1% or greater annual chance of flooding. Areas considered as moderate to low risk (B, C or X zones) are considered less likely to flood than high-risk areas, but that doesn’t mean there is no risk of flooding. As our climate changes, historical data isn’t always a reliable predictor of future events.
Flood can cause extensive damage to your building’s structure as well as your personal item/contents. Depending on the depth of water, there can be substantial tear-out needed. If you live in a place where there was a high-velocity flow, floods can damage your foundation. Flood insurance provides property owners with the financial capability to take quick action and reduce the damage to their building. Homeowners can purchase up to $250,000 in coverage for their home and up to $100,000 for their personal belongings in their home. Commercial property owners can purchase coverage limits of up to $500,000 for their building and $500,000 for their contents in their building.
All homes, regardless of flood zone, are at risk of flooding. Over the last five years every state has experienced flooding. Consider these 4 facts:
- FEMA advises that just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage
- More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside of high-risk flood zones
- Only 20% of impacted homeowners from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 had flood insurance
- Federal Disaster assistance comes in the form of loans that must be paid back with interest and FEMA grants only provide about $5,000 average per household. By comparison, the average flood claim in 2022 was more than $87,000
Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding.
Ask your insurance agent about your coverage.
What is the big difference between coverage under homeowners insurance and coverage under a flood insurance policy?
The difference between what is covered under the homeowner’s insurance and what is covered under a flood policy really depends on what caused the flooding. If the flooding is an accumulation of surface water from outside your property, you will need a separate flood policy. If it is natural water entering from an opening in the roof, walls, or windows or if the water is processed tap water that leaks from your water pipes or appliances (water heater, washer), it should be covered under most homeowners policies.
There are two basic coverage types provided by a flood policy. Building coverage covers the structure and contents coverage covers the personal or business items, such as clothes, furniture, appliances, stock, etc. If you own the building and the contents you can purchase a flood policy as the named insured with coverage for both the building and contents. If you are a renter, you can purchase coverage for your personal or business contents. You will need to check with your landlord to see if they have flood coverage for their building, but in most cases as you have no insurable interest in the building you cannot purchase flood insurance for building coverage.
If you have a government-backed mortgage, you will need to cover at least the balance on your loan amount, or the amount required by your mortgagee, up to the maximum available limit. Talk to your insurance agent about the value of your property and insuring it appropriately for a significant loss, which may exceed the loan value.
A number of factors are considered when determining your annual flood insurance premium. These factors include:
- Flood risk (e.g., your flood zone)
- The type of coverage being purchased (e.g. building and contents coverage)
- The deductible and amount of building and contents coverage
- The location of your structure
- The design and age of your structure
- The location of your structure’s contents (e.g. Are your utilities elevated?)
With Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action, FEMA has the capability and tools to address rating disparities by incorporating more flood risk variables. These include flood frequency, multiple flood types — river overflow, storm surge, coastal erosion, and heavy rainfall — and distance to a water source, as well as property characteristics such as elevation and the cost to rebuild.
Check out FEMA’s Summary of Coverage. This coverage applies to policies issued under the government-backed NFIP program. Talk to your agent to determine if you have an NFIP policy, or a policy that is issued by a private insurer, which may have different coverage.
The NFIP is a government insurance program which is delivered through a partnership between insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This partnership allows private insurance companies and their agents to sell federal flood insurance backed by the government to property owners nationwide.
What you pay for NFIP flood insurance often has a lot to do with how much flood risk is associated with your property. Mitigating your flood risk not only protects your property against flood damage but can also help lower insurance costs. Common flood mitigation options include:
- Elevating utilities
- Installing flood openings/vents
- Elevating your building
- Filling in a basement
- Relocating your building
Choosing a higher deductible will also lower your premium, but it means you will need to cover more of the cost to rebuild out of pocket (or out of savings).
When voluntarily purchased, your flood policy will have a 30-day waiting period. Here are the only exceptions:
- If a building is located in a newly-designated Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), and flood insurance is being purchased within the 13-month period following a map revision.
- If you purchase flood insurance in connection with making, increasing, extending or renewing your mortgage loan.
- If an additional amount of insurance is selected as an option on the renewal bill.
- If a property is affected by flooding on burned federal land that is a result of, or is exacerbated by, post-wildfire conditions when the policy is purchased within 60 days of the fire containment date.
As a renter, you can get flood insurance for your personal or business property if you are in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program.
You can cancel your policy if you sell your house. You simply need to have your agent provide the company that writes your flood insurance policy with a signed cancellation form and legal documentation such as your settlement paperwork showing the title transfer of your property.
Another option would be for the buyer to assume your current flood policy through an endorsement. This would allow the buyer to show continuous flood insurance coverage and maintain the RR2.0 premium glidepath, if applicable. Check with your agent to see if this is an option that works for both you and the buyer.
There are many valid cancellation reasons that can be used to cancel a flood policy with different business requirements for each reason. Your agent can assist you in requesting cancellation of your flood insurance policy. The agent will submit a cancellation request form with proper documentation to the insurer.
Mudflow is defined as: “A river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, as when earth is carried by a current of water.” Other earth movements, such as landslide, slope failure, or a saturated soil mass moving by liquidity down a slope, are not mudflows. Mudflow is normally defined in layman’s terms as flow of milkshake consistency.