If people weren’t confused about flood insurance, we wouldn’t be here. So what exactly is flood insurance? Read on…

What is flood insurance?

Let’s begin with this: standard homeowners and renters insurance is not flood insurance and does not cover flood damage. If your home is filled with water as a result of rising bodies of lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans, and you believe your homeowners or renters insurance will cover you, you may be left high and dry. (Well, actually, you’ll be all wet.)

Most flood insurance is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under a program called the National Flood Insurance Program (NIFP). That said, nearly 100 insurance companies write and service NFIP policies. So, whether you’re a homeowner, a renter or a business owner, you can purchase flood policies from an insurer under contract with FEMA.

Check with your current insurance agent to see if they offer flood policies.

If they don’t and you’d like a referral, contact the National Flood Insurance Program’s Help Center at 1-800-427-4661.

 

What does flood insurance cover?

Good question. It’s important to know what is and what isn’t covered by a flood insurance policy. Also, there are separate flood insurance policies for your building/structure and for your contents. (For example, if you’re a renter, you may only be interested in the contents policy.) You can buy one or both; each of these policies has its own deductible.

  • A Building Property/Structure policy covers your actual home (building property) up to $250,000.
  • A Personal Property/Contents policy covers your personal property up to $100,000.

 

Covered Building Property/Structure:

  • The electrical and plumbing systems
  • Furnaces, water heaters, heat pumps, and sump pumps
  • Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets
  • The damage must be directly caused by flood water
  • Cabinets that were not damaged by flood water are not covered, even if they match cabinets that were damaged by flood water
  • Foundation walls, anchorage systems, and staircases attached to the building
  • There is an exclusion for “loss caused directly by earth movement even if the earth movement is caused by flood”
  • A detached garage, used for limited storage or parking
  • Up to 10 percent of the building coverage limit can be used, but will reduce the total amount of building coverage available
  • Cisterns and the water in them
  • Fuel tanks and the fuel in them, solar energy equipment, and well water tanks and pumps
  • Window blinds
  • The electrical and plumbing systems
  • Furnaces, water heaters, heat pumps, and sump pumps
  • Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets
  • The damage must be directly caused by flood water
  • Cabinets that were not damaged by flood water are not covered, even if they match cabinets that were damaged by flood water
  • Foundation walls, anchorage systems, and staircases attached to the building
  • There is an exclusion for “loss caused directly by earth movement even if the earth movement is caused by flood”
  • A detached garage, used for limited storage or parking
  • Up to 10 percent of the building coverage limit can be used, but will reduce the total amount of building coverage available
  • Cisterns and the water in them
  • Fuel tanks and the fuel in them, solar energy equipment, and well water tanks and pumps
  • Window blinds

Covered Personal Property/Contents:

  • Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment
  • Curtains
  • Portable and window air conditioners (easily moved or relocated)
  • Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers
  • Carpets not included in building coverage (carpet installed over wood floors, etc.)
  • Clothes washers and dryers
  • Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)
  • Food freezers and the food in them (but not refrigerators)
  • Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment
  • Curtains
  • Portable and window air conditioners (easily moved or relocated)
  • Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers
  • Carpets not included in building coverage (carpet installed over wood floors, etc.)
  • Clothes washers and dryers
  • Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)
  • Food freezers and the food in them (but not refrigerators)

For a complete summary of coverage under an NFIP policy, go to what’s covered.

Commercial flood insurance is also available from the NFIP; it provides up to $500,000 of coverage for your building and up to $500,000 for its contents. Be sure to talk to your licensed insurance agent about what is and isn’t covered by your policy.

 

What is FEMA disaster assistance?

So let’s say you and your family (and, most likely, your neighbors) have experienced a flood in your area and there’s talk about disaster assistance. That kind of assistance only happens when there’s an official Individual Assistance Presidential Disaster Declaration. Just so you know, most flood events do not result in a declaration. If that happens though, government money is then made available to those who might need it due to the specific disaster, and if you talk to people who have received it, it’s typically not enough.

But here’s the thing. According to FEMA, disaster assistance comes in two forms:

  •  A U.S. Small Business Administration loan, which must be paid back with interest
  •  A FEMA disaster grant, which is about $5,000 on average per household

What does flood insurance offer you? Consider these two things:

  • A flood insurance payout does not have to be repaid
  • Just one inch of floodwater in your home can cause $25,000 damage, and the average flood insurance claim is nearly $30,000
It's time to get the simple, indisputable facts about the growing chances for flooding and why you need flood insurance.
It's time to get the simple, indisputable facts about the growing chances for flooding and why you need flood insurance.

Copyright © HRPDC Coastal Resiliency Committee. All rights reserved. All photos on this site depict flooding in Hampton Roads.