Do I Need Flood Insurance Even if I’m Not in a Flood Zone?
It’s officially time for those April showers!
It’s not just a cliche: spring is wet — and if you are one of the unlucky ones who will experience flooding in the next several weeks, you may be dealing with a large expense if you aren’t properly insured.
If you’re not in a “flood zone,” you may think you are safe from flooding, but think again — According to FEMA, 25% of flood-related claims are from low to moderate flood risk areas (and this is only using data from those who HAVE flood insurance).
At Berry Insurance, we know how much of a wet blanket flooding can be, and we don’t want anyone to go through that, which is why we have helped educate many clients about their flood risks and got them equipped with a flood policy to protect them.
Read on to learn if your coverage is enough, or if you need additional flood protection.
Water damage covered by home insurance:
When you see you have water damage coverage on your homeowners policy, you might assume that covers floods. After all, floods are water, right?
Well, that’s not exactly how it works. This is one of those strange things in insurance. We don’t know why the industry does it this way, but it’s just the way it is.
Under your homeowners’ policy, your water damage coverage may cover situations including burst pipes, an overflowing toilet, or rain dripping through your roof.
If any water enters your home from the ground outside, it is not covered.
If you want to be covered from damage caused by floods, you’re going to need a separate flood insurance policy.
Water damage covered by flood insurance:
Flood insurance, which is backed by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under The National Flood Insurance Program, covers damages in your home caused from flooding.
Flood insurance protects from floods under the following definition: water that covers at least two acres of land that is normally dry, or that damages two properties, one being your own.
Flooding can have a variety of causes including thawing snow, a rain storm, a river or creek overflowing, or even a neighbor’s pool draining into your home.
If one of these scenarios happened to you, your flood insurance would cover your home and permanent fixtures within your home and most of your possessions.
What isn’t covered:
Unfortunately, when it comes to basements, there are restrictions in coverage.
Flood insurance will cover permanent fixtures and some appliances in basements, including foundation walls, staircases, air conditioning units, electrical outlets, circuit breakers, and washing machines/dryers.
Non-essential extras within the basement (such as materials used to “finish” a basement) like paneling, tiles, carpets, and curtains are not covered.
Furniture, items in storage, or other belongings are also not covered. If there is a risk for a flood, we recommend moving all these items up to the main floor, where they would be covered by flood insurance.
How flood insurance works:
Home and business owners can get flood insurance if their community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (most do). Renters and condo unit owners can also get flood policies for the contents of their apartments.
Once you purchase a flood policy, there is a 30-day waiting period before the policy becomes active, unless the insurance is a requirement to get a mortgage, in which case the waiting period is generally waived.
Some flood insurance companies may also temporarily stop writing any new flood insurance policies if there is an upcoming storm.
Submitting a claim:
If a flood occurs, the first thing you would need to do is take pictures of the damaged property before doing any clean up. That way, you will have proof of all damage for the insurance company. You should also make a list of all items lost or damaged with their value so you can be properly reimbursed.
Then, you can begin cleanup and reach out to your insurance agent or carrier to submit your claims.
After you pay your deductible (which you choose when buying flood insurance) the insurance will pay for the damage up to the coverage limits you set.
Who needs flood insurance?
You may have heard if you don’t live in a flood zone, you don’t need flood insurance, but the truth is, everyone lives in a “flood zone” — it’s just that every zone has a different level of risk.
If you live or own a business in a FEMA-designated high risk flood zone and finance your home or business, your mortgage company will require you to buy flood insurance.
And even if you’re in a low risk area, flood zones are always changing. New nearby land developments and alterations in landscaping can instantly increase the chances of your home being flooded.
If you do not live in a high risk flood area, the choice is up to you, however, we always think it is worth it to have flood insurance.
Flood related claims can cost tens of thousands of dollars, so if you can’t or don’t want to pay for those damages out of pocket, you’ll probably want to have flood insurance.
How to know what flood zone you’re in:
Flood zones are divided into six different categories, labeled with the following letters:
High risk areas: A, V
Moderate to low risk areas: B,C,X
Not yet mapped (unknown): D
To view flood maps of your area, you can visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.
Do I need flood insurance if I rent?
Don’t assume flood insurance is only for homeowners.
While flood damage to your apartment’s structure and contents would be the responsibility of the building owner, your furniture, clothing, and other possessions would not be covered.
You should have a flood insurance policy to ensure your apartment’s contents are covered.
Who doesn’t need flood insurance?
Flooding is rare — if your budget is tight or you are living paycheck to paycheck and you don’t want to spend the extra money, you might feel it is right to refrain from getting the coverage.
Flood policies can be expensive, and some people just don’t want to spend the extra money.
That’s fine, but know you may be putting your home, apartment, or business in a vulnerable position. It only takes a small amount of water to cause thousands in damages.
How much flood insurance do I need? How much does it cost?
When purchasing flood insurance, you can buy up to $250,000 in dwelling coverage and $100,000 in personal property coverage for a total of $350,000.
How much you choose to buy will depend on how high you perceive your risk, your budget, and any requirements from your mortgage lender.
The cost of flood insurance can vary greatly (from $500 to $12,000 annually) depending on what risk zone you are in, what your coverage limits are, and what you choose as your deductible.
If you’re renting, coverage for your personal belongings will generally cost a couple hundred dollars.
Don’t let April showers put a damper on your spring:
Whether you’re in a high risk flood zone or not, you might want flood insurance to protect yourself from thousands of dollars in flood-related damage.
At Berry Insurance, we’ve had many clients who have experienced flooding ask if any of it could be covered on their homeowners insurance. We hate to inform them they aren’t covered and hear their regret for opting out of flood insurance.
So whether you need to protect your home or business, we can help get you the protection you need.
In addition to having coverage for a worst-case-scenario flood, it also doesn’t hurt to take efforts to prevent flood damage in the first place.