Questions & Answers 

  1. Why do I need flood insurance?
  2. What is NFIP?
  3. What is the definition of a flood?
  4. What are my chances of flooding?
  5. When is purchasing flood insurance required by law?
  6. Where can I get policy forms?
  7. Doesn’t my Homeowner’s policy cover flood damage?
  8. What do I do if I need help with a quote?
  9. Can’t I just wait for a flood warning to buy a flood policy?
  10. How much does flood insurance cost?
  11. Where can I find an NFIP agent in my area?
  12. How do I reach customer service? What are the hours of operation?
  13. What is flood proofing? How does someone get it done and who does it?
  14. What are the coverage limits for a standard flood policy?
  15. When is a standard flood policy not enough?
  16. My property is flooded, what do I do?
  17. Can I get government aid?
  18. What is the definition of a basement? When is a basement not a basement?
  19. I have a basement. What does a flood policy cover for the basement?
  20. What is a principal or primary residence?

Why do I need flood insurance?    [back to top]
Flooding is nature’s most common natural disaster. The average homeowner is five times more likely to incur flood damage than fire damage. The chances only increase if you live in medium or high risk zones. Homeowner's policies may not cover the flood damage, and the out-of-pocket costs can be burdensome.

You would need to look very carefully at what causes the flooding in your area and how high the water near your home rose. Because rainfall amounts are different when a storm moves across an area, a "100-year flood" may occur in some places but not others. There are many factors that can add to flooding, including debris in the waterway, small road culverts and bridges, frozen or saturated ground, and others.

What is NFIP?    [back to top]
NFIP is the National Flood Insurance Program. Over 23,000 communities across the United States and its territories participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP makes Federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in these communities. Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary.

Flood insurance is designed to provide an alternative to disaster assistance to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. In addition to providing flood insurance and reducing flood damages through floodplain management regulations, the NFIP identifies and maps the Nation's floodplains. Mapping flood hazards creates broad-based awareness of the flood hazards and provides the data needed for floodplain management programs and to actuarially rate new construction for flood insurance.

What is the definition of a flood?    [back to top]
A “Flood” is defined as a general and temporary condition of complete or partial inundation of normally dry land area by surface water, and the surface water can be from any source. In order for damage from the “flood” to be considered under the flood policy, the flood needs to be “a general condition” which means that it must affect two or more properties (one of which is yours) or if it is confined to just your property, it must cover two or more acres of land.

Floods can be slow, or fast rising but generally develop over a period of days. Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in mitigation steps now, such as, engaging in floodplain management activities, constructing barriers, such as levees, and purchasing flood insurance will help reduce the amount of structural damage to your home and financial loss from building and crop damage should a flood or flash flood occur.

To understand FEMA's position on floods and flood coverage visit NFIP Summary of Coverage.

What are my chances of flooding?    [back to top]
(Answer from FloodFacts.com) Live in a high-risk area? You've got a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during the life of your 30-year mortgage. You're also:

• 5 times more likely to experience flooding than fire.
• more likely to have your home burglarized.
• more likely to have your car stolen.

And you don't have to live in a high-risk zone to be a victim. Almost 25% of all Flood claims come from low- to moderate-risk areas. In fact, 90% of all presidential-declared disasters involve flooding. Even minor flooding can mean major financial burdens.

When is purchasing flood insurance required by law?    [back to top]
If you have a federally backed mortgage on a home located in a high-risk zone, federal law requires you to purchase flood insurance to secure a loan. Also, if you've received a federal grant for previous flood losses, you must have a flood policy to qualify for future aid.

Where can I get policy forms?    [back to top]
You can review forms by following the link to the Forms Library or by contacting an NFIP agent in your area.

Doesn’t my Homeowner’s Policy cover flood damage?    [back to top]
No. While your Homeowner’s policy may cover fire, tornado or even earthquake damage, most EXCLUDE damage caused by flooding – nature’s most common natural disaster. Those that cover SOME flood damage only do so by a specific endorsement, and only for a certain dollar amount. Check with your insurance agent to see what coverage is available.

What do I do if I need help with a quote?    [back to top]
We know it can be difficult to understand the types of policies available. We recommend contacting a qualified NFIP agent in your area. If you need assistance finding a qualified agent, contact the NFIP Flood Service Center at 1-800-638-6620.

Can’t I just wait for a flood warning before I buy a flood policy?    [back to top]
You may choose to do so, but be aware there is a standard waiting period of 30 days before a flood policy becomes effective. If you delay, it may be too late. Insurance purchased in connection to loans or recently rezoned areas are an exception and are effective immediately.

How much does flood insurance cost?    [back to top]
This answer depends on many different variables. Please contact a flood insurance agent to determine how much flood insurance coverage is right for your property and then to determine how much that will cost. FEMA has published a simple worksheet on how to estimate the cost of flood insurance. You can find the worksheet by following the link to http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/premiumest.jsp

Where can I find an NFIP agent in my area?    [back to top]
Over 19,000 communities participate in the NFIP program. To see if you are in one of these communities you may call NFIP at 1-800-638-6620 to speak with a customer service representative.

How do I reach customer service?    [back to top]
You can reach the NFIP Flood Service Center by calling 1-800-638-6620 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

What is flood proofing? How does someone get it done and who does it?    [back to top]
Flood proofing is available ONLY to commercial properties. Generally, flood proofing will create a watertight ‘membrane’ to prevent water from entering the building and at the same time allow the building’s walls to withstand the great pressure that is generated by the tremendous volume of water against the building. It is because of the pressure of the floodwaters that residential basements are NOT normally likely candidates for flood proofing.

What are the coverage limits for a standard policy?    [back to top]
Generally, under the National Flood Insurance Program, a homeowner (including an owner of a residential unit in a condominium building) may purchase up to $250,000 of building coverage and up to $100,000 in personal property coverage. A business owner may purchase up to $500,000 in building coverage to cover his owned building, and up to $500,000 in personal property coverage to cover his owned inventory and equipment.

When is a standard policy not enough?    [back to top]
If your residence is worth more than $250,000 you will want to speak with your insurance agent about Excess Flood Insurance. This additional insurance could increase the policy coverage up to a total of $750,000. Businesses could extend coverage up to $1 million dollars.

My property is flooded, what do I do?    [back to top]
a. Read your flood policy; what coverages did you purchase?
b. Take photos of all of the damage
c. Begin to dry out the building and personal property
d. Keep a/c (or if cool, furnace) running, to assist in drying out of the property; if no heating/cooling, keep windows open, have fans blowing to assist in drying
e. Try to find documents relating to the purchase of the flood-damaged property
f. If your carpet and pad have been saturated by the floodwater, cut and remove the carpet and pad; please save a small (2-feet by 2-feet square) piece of the carpet to show to the adjuster
g. If your carpet is damp, pull the carpet loose, remove the pad and dry the floor
h. Keep oriental rugs wet – roll them up and take to professional cleaners for proper cleaning or evaluation
i. Clean floors, walls, cabinets with mixture of 1-part bleach, 4-parts water
j. If cleaning is removing water lines, please take photos of the interior and exterior water line depth
k. Separate the damaged from the undamaged property; maintain control over the damaged property (keep it in the back yard or garage or shed if possible so that thieves do not remove it)
l. Begin writing a list of damaged property for the adjuster
m. Call for appliance repair company to have technician clean, service and provide repair estimate for flood-damaged appliances
n. Call for heating company to have technician clean, service and provide repair estimate for flood-damaged heating/cooling equipment

Can I get government aid?    [back to top]
Having a NFIP flood insurance policy on your building and contents does not prevent you from receiving government aid for flood, however, the government aid rules normally will reduce any government aid by the amount of NFIP insurance proceeds received. Normally, if you do NOT have NFIP flood insurance and if you receive government aid for flood damage, you WILL be required to obtain flood insurance coverage because of that aid.

What is the definition of a basement? When is a basement not a basement?    [back to top]
The flood insurance policy defines a basement as any area that has the floor below grade on all sides. This means that if the floor is 12 inches below grade on all sides, 7 feet on all sides, or 7 feet on three sides and 12 inches on the fourth side, IT IS A BASEMENT. If the area is AT or ABOVE grade on ANY side, that area is NOT a basement. Some people are surprised to learn their “walk-out basement” isn’t classified as a basement.

I have a basement. What does a flood policy cover for the basement?    [back to top]
Generally, if you purchased Building Coverage, the flood policy will pay for flood-related cleanup, for damage to the furnace, water heater, water softener, electrical and damaged foundation elements. The flood policy will pay to replace unfinished drywall; the flood policy will NOT pay for any finishes, paneling, doors, millwork, wallpaper, painted surfaces, carpet nor for any finishes in the basement. Generally, if you purchased Personal Property Coverage, the flood policy will only pay for flood damage to clothes washer, clothes dryer, freezer (but not for a refrigerator nor refrigerator/freezer combination) and the food in the freezer.

What is a principal or primary residence?    [back to top]
For rating purpose only, FEMA defines a primary residence as a building that will be lived in by an insured or an insured’s spouse for 50%-79% of the 365 days following the policy effective date. A principal residence is a single-family dwelling in which, at the time of loss, the named insured or the named insured’s spouse has lived for either 80% of the 365 days immediately preceding the loss, or 80% of the period of ownership, if less than 365 days.

Exceptions include:

1. Active-duty military personnel who are deployed for 50 percent or more of the policy year in compliance with military orders and not renting or using as income the property during the policy term; or

2. Policyholders displaced from a primary residence and living in a temporary residence due to a federally declared disaster or a loss event on the primary residence claimed on any line of insurance for 50 percent or more of the policy year; or

3. Policyholders who are absent from a primary residence for reasons such as routine business travel, hospitalizations, and/or vacation for 50 percent or more of the policy year.

    

 

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