How to Buy Flood Insurance Coverage

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In US Hurricane season brings more wind, rain and catastrophic loss to people and phone calls, emails and claims to home insurance companies. The majority of those calls and claims are due to flooding – not damage caused by rain, wind or fallen objects. And the response from your local agent may surprise you. Unfortunately, flood insurance is typically not covered in most homeowners insurance policies.

If you’re a homeowner and you carry a homeowner’s insurance policy on your house, you may think you’re completely covered. However, you could be leaving yourself open to some major out-of-pocket repair costs if your house sustains water damage. More than 20 percent of flood claims originate from outside of a flood zone, which means that virtually no home is safe from potential flooding, even if you live well outside of a floodplain.

Is Flood insurance included in Homeowners Insurance?

How to Buy Flood Insurance Coverage 1

Floods are the most common natural disaster, and therefore the most costly type of natural disaster, especially in the U.S. The only way to completely cover yourself, and your home, is by purchasing flood insurance. Without it, you’ll be paying out of pocket for any and all repairs to your home if it floods.

All it takes is a few inches of water to do some devastating damage to your home. And, while there may be a handful of homeowners policies that include flood insurance, it’s more than likely you won’t be covered under your normal policy.

But it’s not just homeowners who may need a flood insurance policy. Renters typically aren’t covered for flood damage under a standard rental policy, and while you likely won’t be the one ponying up for the cost of new floors and drywall (if the flood wasn’t your fault), you do need a contents-only flood policy to make sure your furniture and other items are covered. It will help pay for the cost to repair or replace your items in case of flood damage.

Wondering how to buy flood insurance? It isn’t like buying homeowners insurance. You can only purchase flood insurance through an insurance agent . If you already have an insurance agent, start with them, but be aware that not all agents offer it, and it can be tricky to find in areas that are prone to flooding.

Which insurance carriers offer flood insurance?

Not all agents or companies offer flood insurance.

How to Buy Flood Insurance Coverage 2

What you need to know before you buy flood insurance

Before you make that call to your insurance agent, though, you need to know what to ask to make sure you’re completely covered.

  • What flood zone do I live in? What is my property’s flood risk?
  • Is there a flood map change coming that could affect what I pay? Many communities are built on a flood zone, and you may not even be aware that your house is situated on one. It’s important to know what the risk is for flooding to your home–a number of factors can affect it–and changes are frequently made to the flood map, which could raise the cost of your policy.
  • What will and won’t be covered? As with any insurance policy, there are things that will or won’t be covered, and it’s important to know what the policy covers before you buy flood insurance. Does it cover the contents of your home or just damage to the property? What types of floods are covered?

What does a typical flood insurance policy cover?

In general, flood insurance policies only cover damage from natural flood disasters, not from an overflowing toilet or broken pipe. So in order for your flood policy to cover damage, it has to be from a naturally occurring incident.

There are a couple of types of flood insurance, and what kind you have will dictate what’s covered. The first is building property coverage, which covers:

  • The structure of your house
  • The electrical and plumbing systems
  • Central AC, furnaces, vacuum systems, etc
  • Refrigerators and built in appliances
  • Permanently installed carpeting
  • Window blinds
  • Detached garages
How to Buy Flood Insurance Coverage 3

If you want the items inside your house to be covered under your flood policy, you’ll have to purchase what is called “personal property coverage,” which covers most personal belongings, separately. This type of policy covers:

  • Clothing, furniture and electronic equipment
  • Curtains
  • Portable air conditioners, window units
  • Carpets not included in building coverage
  • Washers and dryers
  • Food freezers and the food in them
  • Valuables like artwork and fur

Rental-specific coverage

Businesses and homeowners aren’t the only ones who need flood insurance; renters should look at what options are available, too.
The cost of the policy will depend on where you live and how much of a flood risk there is to the property you’re renting. If you’re located in a low- to moderate-risk area, you may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy, and it won’t cost much at all.

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