21 Jun 5 Questions to Ask About Flood Insurance
A surprisingly common misconception amongst homeowners is the belief that their home insurance policy protects them from rising flood waters. It does not. In the past, private insurers pulled away from insuring floods because they were “too risky” to cover. Nowadays, you can buy flood insurance policies to go along with homeowners insurance. If you’re looking to protect yourself from floods, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself and your insurance agent.
First of all, do you even need it?
That depends. If you’re purchasing a house with a federally-backed mortgage in an area at high risk of a flood, flood insurance is actually mandatory. If you inherited your home or have paid off your mortgage, the decision to buy flood insurance is up to you. If you live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Policy, you can purchase a federally-backed policy, and if you live outside an area participating in the National Flood Insurance Policy, you may still be able to purchase flood insurance. Click here to see all communities participating in the NFIP.
What does flood insurance actually protect me from?
Flood insurance protects your house from water that has risen to areas normally occupied by dry land. This also covers mudflows, but not landslides. The difference between these is that mudflows still resemble a liquid, while landslides have actual chunks of land and debris moving with them. This distinction is necessary to understand if you are in an area prone to either, or both.
What does flood insurance NOT protect me from?
Policies vary, and you should talk to your insurance agent to understand where exactly you are and aren’t covered. Certain parts of your house may not be included in your policy: any furnished area below ground level, trees, walkways, pools, and decks. You can buy flood insurance for your items, but coverage is limited.
What exclusions should I look for?
There are a few exclusions to be aware of. Flood insurance does not cover the loss of property due to earth movement, even if triggered by floods. This means landslides, sinkholes, and movement of land due to water accumulation or erosion. Flood insurance does not offer temporary living expenses like home insurance can. An agent with prior flood experience will be able to directly clarify what exclusions apply.
What should I do before a storm?
Mitigation is the term used to describe a homeowner’s own efforts to protect their home before a flood hits. Precautions that can be done by the homeowner include using sandbags to support and seal openings at the base of doors and windows, as well as documentation of the home prior to the flood’s arrival. Taking pictures of the foundation, interior, and exterior walls, and the condition of everything inside the home is important to making your claim. If a flood damages your home and you have no proof of what it looked like prior to the damage, it is difficult to file the appropriate claim. Taking pictures of the aftermath is also helpful when assessing the extent of the damages.