Flood Insurance FAQ

Flood Insurance FAQ

Below are some common questions regarding flood insurance.  


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No. Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy.

Not necessarily. Federal disaster assistance is only made available when there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration, and most flood events do not result in a declaration. Federal disaster aid typically comes in the form of low-interest disaster loans that must be repaid, along with whatever loan payment you may already have had for your property. Disaster assistance from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration was not designed to restore your home to its pre-disaster condition or to replace most of your treasured household items.

Flood insurance doesn’t have to be paid back, and it is designed to restore your property to its pre-disaster condition. There’s no better way to protect the life you’ve built than with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance.

To purchase flood insurance from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you must live in a community that participates in the program. Find out if your community participates in the NFIP and discover the NFIP resources available in your community.

Yes, if you live in a community that participates in the NFIP, you can purchase flood insurance to cover the contents of your home or business. Discuss your options with your insurance agent today.

Yes. Even though flood insurance isn’t federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, policyholders outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20 percent of all NFIP flood insurance claims and receive one-third of federal disaster assistance for flooding. When it’s available, federal disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest. Ask your insurance agent for a quote.

Flooding occurs in moderate- to low-risk areas as well as in high-risk areas. Poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, snowmelt and broken water mains can all result in flooding. Properties on a hillside can be damaged by mudflow, a covered peril under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. In high-risk areas, there is at least a one-in-four chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. For these reasons, flood insurance is required by law for buildings in high-risk flood areas as a condition of receiving a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.

FEMA publishes maps indicating a community’s flood hazard areas and the degree of risk in those areas. Flood insurance maps usually are on file in a local repository in the community, such as the planning and zoning or engineering offices in the town hall or the county building.

Maps are available online or by writing, phoning or faxing a request to the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.  You can also view your property in relation to mapped and regulated floodplains by entering your address into FEMA's National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer.

Under federal law, the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory for all federal or federally-related financial assistance (federally-backed mortgage, loan, etc.) for the acquisition and/or construction of buildings in high-risk flood areas (Special Flood Hazard Areas or SFHAs).

The amount of flood insurance coverage required by the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, as amended by the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994, is the least of the following:

  1. The maximum amount of NFIP coverage available for the particular property type;
  2. The outstanding principal balance of the loan; or
  3. The insurable value of the structure.

If the property is not in a high-risk area, but instead in a moderate- to low-risk area, federal law does not require flood insurance, however, a lender can still require it. In fact, over 20 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas outside of mapped high-risk flood zones. Note that if, during the life of the loan, the maps are revised and the property is now in the high-risk area, your lender will notify you that you must purchase flood insurance.

Yes! You are eligible to purchase a flood policy with the same coverage you would receive if you lived in a high-risk area. That is, of course, as long as your community participates in the NFIP.

Yes. If you live in a high-risk Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and have received disaster assistance in the form of a federal grant or loan, you must purchase and maintain flood insurance for as long as you live there. If you are a homeowner and you sell the building, you are required to inform the new owner of the necessity to purchase and maintain flood insurance. Failure to maintain flood insurance—for both renters and homeowners—could result in the denial of future federal disaster assistance.

The NFIP has an arrangement with private insurance companies to sell and service flood insurance policies. A list of private insurance companies that sell and service NFIP flood insurance policies is available online.

Flood insurance can be purchased through an insurance agent or an insurer participating in the NFIP. If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Help Center at 800-427-4661 for assistance.

Many private insurance companies offer Excess Flood Protection, which provides limits over and above those of the NFIP. For more information, contact your insurance agent or company.

Flood coverage limits for a standard flood policy are:

Coverage Type Flood Coverage Limit
One to four-family structure $250,000
One to four-family home contents $100,000
Other residential structures $500,000
Other residential contents $100,000
Business structure $500,000
Business contents $500,000
Renter contents $100,000

Flood insurance covers your home’s foundation elements and equipment that’s necessary to support the structure (furnace, water heaters, circuit breakers, etc.).

It’s important to note that some items in your basement are covered under building coverage (like a furnace, hot water heater and circuit breaker) and others are covered under contents coverage that must be purchased in addition to building coverage (a washer and dryer, a freezer and the food in it).

The NFIP encourages people to purchase both building and contents coverage. Flood insurance does not cover basement improvements, such as finished walls, floors, ceilings or personal belongings that may be kept in a basement. For a complete list of what’s covered, view the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) Forms.

Yes, providing that, if confined to your property, the flood water covers at least two acres. A general condition of flood also exists if two properties are affected, one of which is yours.

No. When rain enters through a wind-damaged window or door, or comes through a hole in a wall or roof, the NFIP considers the resulting puddles and damage to be windstorm-related, not flood-related.

Flood insurance covers overflow of inland or tidal waters and unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source. However, the flood must be a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is yours). Although flood insurance specifically excludes wind and hail damage, most homeowners insurance provides this coverage.

If a flood damages your home or business, you may be required by law or ordinance to meet certain building compliancy requirements in your community to reduce future flood damage. To help with these costs, the NFIP includes Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage for all eligible properties insured under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. You may file a claim for your ICC coverage in three instances:

  • If your community determines that your home or business is damaged by a flood to the point that repairs will cost 50 percent or more of the building’s pre-damage market value (a lower threshold can be adopted by law or ordinance). This is called substantial damage.
  • If your community has a repetitive loss provision in its floodplain management ordinance and determines that your home or business was damaged by a flood two times in the past 10 years, where the cost of repairing the flood damage, on the average, equaled or exceeded 25 percent of its market value at the time of each flood. This is called repetitive damage. Additionally, there must have been flood insurance claim payments for each of the two flood losses.
  • If you participate in a FEMA-sponsored grant program and meet eligibility requirements.

Read more about ICC

It is essential that you speak with your insurance agent to determine exact costs.

A number of factors are considered when determining your flood insurance premium. These factors include: the amount and type of coverage being purchased, location and flood zone and the design and age of your structure. For more information, see Understanding Costs.

It’s possible that you qualify for a discount based on your community’s participation and status in the Community Rating System program. For more information, see the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.

Most likely. Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect. 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.

Separate deductibles apply to building and contents coverages. This means that if your building and contents are both damaged due to a flood event, both deductibles are applied.

For more information about deductibles, contact your insurance agent or company.

Only one building and its contents can be insured by each policy. A separate NFIP flood insurance policy is required for each structure to be insured.

All policies expire at 12:01 a.m. on the last day of the effective term, but you remain covered for 30 days after the expiration of the policy. Claims for losses that occur in this grace period will be honored, provided that the full renewal premium is paid by the end of the 30-day period.

Don’t let your flood policy lapse. Doing so could cause you to lose any discounted rates you have been receiving. And you may not be in compliance with the terms of your mortgage agreement (if your lender requires flood insurance coverage).

Maybe. When your insured home is in imminent danger of being flooded, you may receive up to a $1,000 reimbursement for your damage-preventing expenses. Things like renting storage space to protect your belongings, buying sandbags and lumber to make a barricade and renting pumps are all things that qualify for reimbursement. No deductible is applied to this coverage.