Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Floods?
Rising floodwaters can cause immense damage to your home's structure, belongings and other precious items. You may assume that your homeowners insurance will protect you if flooding invades your home, but will it? Your home insurance coverage will not protect you if a flood damages your home. You'll need a separate flood insurance policy.
In this article, you'll learn about flood insurance and how it can help protect your precious financial assets.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Flooding?
No, standard homeowners insurance policies don't cover flood damage caused by natural flooding or floodwaters. According to the Insurance Information Institute, home insurance policies only pay for damages caused by sudden or accidental causes. Although homeowners insurance policies cover most natural disasters, they won't cover damages from natural flooding, earthquakes, poor maintenance or neglect.
Unfortunately, 43% of Americans believe homeowners insurance covers flood damage, according to a recent survey. This study found that only 15% of homeowners have flood insurance.
What Is Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance is coverage that protects homes, building structures and their contents from flooding damage that homeowners policies don't cover. The federal government and private insurers provide this insurance as separate policies. The federal government requires homeowners with mortgages from government-backed lenders to purchase flood insurance if they live on a 100-year flood plain.
Due to extreme weather events, flooding can occur anywhere. In 2021, heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused floods in the Northeast. Other flooding events have recently happened in the Mid-Atlantic, Alabama and Northern California. Although this insurance seems unnecessary, it can protect you if one of these disasters hits your area.
Homeowners and businesses can purchase coverage using the following flood insurance options.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Most homeowners can purchase federal flood insurance from FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program. You can ask your local insurance agent to process this application for you. The NFIP must take applications from all people who live in communities that participate in their program. The federal government may limit coverage if you live in a high-tide flood area or have had flood damage in the past.
You can visit the website of the official government organization at: floodsmart.gov/flood-insurance-provider or you can contact the NFIP directly at (817) 336-2627.
There is usually a 30-day waiting period for an NFIP policy to go into effect.
Private Personal Flood Insurance
The United States government isn't the only entity that offers flood insurance. Private insurers offer private flood insurance. They provide coverage options that may not be available from the NFIP.
Get a Quote For Flood Insurance
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
Flood insurance coverage protects against the following risks that homeowners and businesses face, such as:
- Overflows caused by inland and tidal waters, including heavy rains, river flooding and streams.
- Levee breaks
- Mudflows in areas that are usually dry
The NFIP provides different coverage to protect homeowners, renters and businesses. Its insurance offers two types of protection for structures and personal belongings. This insurance can make the recovery process easier since it will pay for damages caused by floodwaters to the following items:
NFIP's Building Coverage
- Built-in appliances (dishwashers, stoves)
- Water heaters and furnaces
- Electrical systems
- Permanently installed carpeting
- Window blinds
- Foundations, walls, staircases
- Detached garages
- Wells, water tanks, pumps, fuel tanks, solar equipment
NFIP Contents Coverage
- Personal property (furniture, electronics, clothing, computers)
- Washer and dryer
- Air conditioners
- Microwave ovens
- Carpeting installed over wood flooring
- Valuables (jewelry, artwork, coats)
These coverages are available to any person living in the 23,000 participating NFIP communities.
Should I Buy Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance is essential you if live in an area prone to these disasters. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, one inch of flooding in your home can cause more than $25,000 worth of damage. Since these policies don't cover these natural disasters, you may pay for these repair costs out of pocket if you don't purchase a flood insurance policy.
In July 2021, the General Accounting Office (GAO) released a study advising Congress to update the mandatory purchasing requirement for the National Flood Insurance Program for residents in flood plains. The number of people who have flood insurance has decreased. In 2014, 28% of people that had flood insurance no longer had it in 2019.
The Average Cost of Flood Insurance by State
Americans pay $793 on average for flood insurance annually. Although homeowners and businesses usually purchase flood insurance from the NFIP, it may not be the cheapest option for you.
Sometimes, it will cost you less money to get private flood insurance, rather than purchasing a policy from the federal government. Private insurers will use analysis to find out how much of a risk you'll present to their company.
You can also get a flood insurance policy for a lower price from a private insurer because of the way these companies structure their policies. The NFIP requires people to purchase building and personal property coverages separately. A private insurance company may bundle these coverages together at a lower cost.
Factors that will affect your flood insurance premiums include:
- Deductible - This shared amount is what you must pay before your insurer starts to pay costs.
- Flood risk - Your insurer will charge you higher premiums if you live in an area with a history of flooding. You can determine your risk by using FEMA's flood maps.
- Age - Older homes have a significant risk of flood damage due to their building materials and structures. You'll pay increased rates on these homes.
- Location - You may pay higher premiums if your home is on a flood plain rather than a hill or elevation.
- Construction - Homes made from brick and concrete are more resistant to flooding. Homes in flood zones usually include permanent barriers like floodwalls.
- Coverage - Your premiums will be higher the more your home is worth. A person with a $600,000 home will pay more money for flood insurance than one valued at $150,000.
- Flood Insurance Rate Maps - These maps, created by FEMA, determine official flood areas and their potential severity of flooding.
- Risk Rating 2.0 - The NFIP has a new Risk Rating 2.0 that will help reduce costs between flood insurance for higher and lower valued homes. These new ratings began in October 2021.
How To Buy Flood Insurance Online
Flood insurance can help protect your home's structure and belongings if floodwaters invade your home. You can select either a National Flood Insurance Policy from the federal government or you can purchase a private flood policies.
If you want to purchase or renew an existing policy, you can contact your local insurance company or an independent agent who can write flood insurance directly with the NFIP. You can also search for a national insurer that offers coverage using SmartFinancial's insurance comparison engine. Just enter your zipcode below and answer a few questions about your home insurance policy to start the process.