Over the past few years, you’ve probably seen devastating flood damage on the news and watched interviews with grief-stricken families lamenting that their insurance doesn’t cover the damage to their home.
If you live in an area that has any chance of flooding, it’s important that you know the basics of flood insurance and how it can protect you from a catastrophic loss.
How do I know if I need it and how do I get it?
Flood insurance is not part of a standard homeowner’s policy, so check to see if it was included with your policy. If you have a government-backed home loan and live in a high risk area, you may have been forced to get flood insurance to qualify for the loan. If you don’t have flood insurance, contact your insurance agent about your options. If your agent doesn’t sell flood insurance, visit the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website at www.floodsmart.gov to find an agent near you who does.
If you are wondering if your home is potentially at risk for flooding, check out the FEMA floodplain maps at www.msc.fema.gov. If your area has not been mapped, check with your area’s Regional Planning Commission for more information.
Do I need to shop around for the best deal?
Flood insurance offered through the NFIP has set rates for your home’s circumstances that don’t differ between providers.
How much will it cost and how much will it cover?
FEMA states that in some cases, flood insurance can cost as little as $100 per year. It currently covers up to $250,000 in structural damage and $100,000 in lost contents.
Can I buy flood insurance as the danger mounts?
There is a 30-day waiting period on the activation of flood insurance, so if you are going to wait until the river starts rising to scoop up a policy, you may be too late.
Can’t I just rely on disaster relief if a flood happens?
In order to get federal government assistance for a flood, it needs to be declared a disaster by the President. Many floods aren’t deemed a “disaster” and thus no federal aid is given to homeowners. Even if you do get disaster assistance from the federal government, it may come in the form of a loan that needs to be paid back.
With so many areas of the country ravaged by flooding over the past few years, there is ample evidence of the value of flood insurance. If you find yourself a victim of rising waters, you will likely come out far ahead with a flood insurance policy than without.