Helpful coverage to protect your home, even if you’re not in a high-risk flood zone.
Some 90% of US natural disasters involve flooding, according to the Insurance Information Institute, and 20% of all flood claims are filed in low- or moderate-risk areas. While your standard homeowners or renters policy won’t cover flooding, you have two options to buy a separate policy.
What does flood insurance cover?
Your flood insurance covers parts of your home damaged by flood, such as:
- Built-in appliances, bookcases and cabinets
- Electrical wiring
- Fuel tanks and fuel
- Foundation walls
- Plumbing damage
- Solar energy equipment
- Window blinds
- Well pressure tanks and pumps
Several key parts of your home that flood insurance may not be covered including:
- Cabinets unaffected by flooding that would no longer match replacement cabinets
- Damage caused by earth movement, even if caused by flooding
- Decks, patios and fencing
- Financial losses caused by business interruption
- Loss of use to the property
- Mold, mildew and moisture damage easily avoided or unrelated to flooding
- Septic systems
- Swimming pools
- Trees, plants and landscaping
How do I get flood insurance?
You can meet your flood insurance coverage through a program managed by FEMA or through a private insurer.
National Flood Insurance Program
Also called FEMA flood insurance, flood insurance offered through the NFIP is backed by the federal government and offered at low rates to property owners, renters and businesses.
The NFIP can afford to offer lower rates because it also encourages communities to adopt regulations for managing floodplains and other flood-mitigation strategies.
Flood insurance rates ultimately are determined by the risk of your home for flooding, which is affected by factors like nearby bodies of water, common storms in your area and your home’s elevation.
Private flood insurance
Policies are available through insurers that aren’t backed by the federal government, though rates are rarely lower than those offered by the NFIP.
Some insurers offer policies that kick in after you’ve expended your NFIP insurance for those who need higher coverage. This excess flood insurance is ideal for homes worth more than $250,000, since the NFIP coverage sets low maximums.
Compare private flood insurance policies
Federal flood insurance vs private flood insurance
You can get private flood insurance backed by the government or go directly through NFIP for flood insurance.
National Flood Insurance Program
- Backed by the government
- Reliable claims fulfillment
- Widely available low rates
- Building coverage limited to $250,000
- Subject to government changes
Private flood insurance
- Higher insurance caps than the NFIP
- Choose your own insurer
- Not affected by government changes
- Insurers differ in how they cover flood situations
- Higher premiums than the NFIP
- Not widely available
How do I apply for flood insurance?
Getting flood insurance is a simple process that could save you thousands in damage expenses. Note that there is a 30-day waiting period before flood coverage takes effect, so consider shopping well before spring flooding season.
- Through the NFIP. To purchase through the government, you’ll need to find an agent who sells NFIP policies. Check with your current homeowners policy insurer or call the NFIP Referral Call Center at 800-427-4661 to find an agent.
- Through a private insurer. For a private policy, enter your personal and home information, coverage needs and choice of deductible in an online quote or over the phone. Then make a payment and start your policy.
Hurricane Harvey: Flood insurance in action
Susan’s home of more than 20 years was hit with 10 inches of flooding during Hurricane Harvey. Flooring, walls, cabinets and personal belongings were damaged, with costs to repair reaching $100,000.
Because Susan held a $250,000 policy with $100,000 for personal contents, Susan paid only her deductibles — $2,000 and $1,000 respectively — to repair her home and replace her belongings.
How to save on flood insurance
You can save on your policy with flood prevention, protection and mitigation:
- Purchase an elevation certificate. Also called an EC, this document verifies your home’s elevation compared to the expected height of floodwaters in your area, keeping your costs low.
- Purchase a Preferred Risk Policy. For those outside high-risk zones, consider this policy type that provides coverage combinations for a lower premium.
- Confirm your community’s CRS enrollment. You could receive a discount on an NFIP policy if your neighborhood is enrolled in the Community Rating System and has worked to reduce flooding risks.
- Elevate your home. Raising your home even 1 foot above floodwater levels could save you as much as 30% on annual premiums.
- Raise your utility equipment. You can shave savings off your premiums by elevating your plumbing, heating, air-conditioning and ventilation above flood levels.
- Install “flood vents.” You may need flood openings in such enclosed spaces as crawlspaces. Homeowners in a floodplain require two openings of at least 1 square inch for every square foot of enclosed space.
How to file a flood insurance claim
Keep the right people in the know about your home’s damage after a flood:
- Call your insurance company or agent to file an NFIP or private home insurance policy claim.
- Provide detailed information about your situation, damages and policy.
- Wait for an adjuster to contact you to set up an assessment.
- Receive from your adjuster a suggested proof-of-loss document, an official statement of the dollar amount you’re claiming for your loss.
- Complete your proof of loss details within 60 days, including receipts or official estimates to prove value when possible.
- Receive an insurance settlement and begin repairs.
What happens if there’s a flood and I don’t have flood insurance?
You’ll probably have to pay for damage out of pocket, unless you can prove any of the damage was caused by a covered event. For example, say a tree fell on your roof during the flood. You may be covered for roof damage depending on how your policy
You may also be able to get a federal disaster recovery loan. The government sometimes offers these no or low interest loans to communities to help with recovery.
How can I ready my home for a storm?
Storms are one of the main ways that flooding occurs. By preparing for storm season, you can protect your home from excessive damage.
- Clean up outdoors. When the wind picks up, everything from potted plants to kids’ trampolines can become dangerous projectiles. Put loose objects away, tie bigger ones down and protect everything you possibly can from the elements.
- Clean your gutters. Clear blockages or buildups of leaves and other debris in your gutters and downpipes. They can contribute to damage when heavy rain hits.
- Check your trees. Make sure there are no trees with branches overhanging your home to prevent damage to power lines in a severe storm. Don’t be afraid to call in the experts if branches are difficult to get to.
- Check your roof. Firmly secure loose tiles or unsecured corrugated sheets on your roof so they don’t turn into projectiles or pose a flood risk to your home.
- Prepare a supply kit. Battery-powered torches and a radio are essential inclusions in any storm survival kit, as are first aid supplies and water. You may also wish to include important mementos to protect from damage or loss in a storm.
- Move your car into the garage. Get your vehicle out of the elements to protect it from damage.
- Batten down the hatches. Secure your doors, windows and awnings against the elements. Plywood coverings for your windows can offer much-needed protection in extreme weather.
- Stay indoors. Stay well out of harm’s way, and listen for the latest weather announcements and updates. When you do venture outside again, stay away from fallen power lines.
Floods are common weather-related natural disasters that can become dangerous fast. Protect your home with flood insurance to stay afloat with coverage for floor, wall, cabinet and other damage not covered by your homeowners insurance.
Get started by comparing insurance providers for an agent or insurer that offers this important protection.