While there are a few exceptions, the vast majority of homeowners, renters and business property insurance policies DO NOT COVER FLOOD LOSSES.
To protect your home or business in the event of flooding from heavy rains, hurricanes, tropical storms and other conditions, including flooding generated by storm surge, you must purchase a separate flood insurance policy.
Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for this purpose. The NFIP is a Federal program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), enabling property owners and renters in participating communities to purchase flood insurance as protection against flood losses. The program offers flood insurance to property owners and renters, both residential and commercial, if their community participates in the NFIP. Coverage for your house or building and its contents can be purchased through private property and casualty insurance companies or their agents.
Be aware that typically there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase of flood insurance before your policy goes into effect. So don’t delay buying flood insurance.
Costs of flood insurance vary depending on how much insurance you purchase, what it covers and the property’s flood risk. Rates do not differ from company to company or from agency to agency. Rates depend on many factors, including the date and type of construction of your home or building and the level of risk.
When purchasing flood protection through the NFIP, the maximum amount of coverage you can purchase for a residential building is $250,000 and up to $100,000 for its contents. Renters can purchase up to $100,000 to cover their belongings. Non-residential property owners can insure their buildings up to $500,000 and contents up to $500,000.
Some homeowners may want to inquire about purchasing excess flood insurance which is available from some private insurers for NFIP policyholders who want additional coverage or where the homeowner’s community does not participate in the NFIP.
Once you’ve purchased flood insurance, keep your policy and an itemized list of your furnishings, clothing and valuables in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box. If you suffer flood damage and have purchased a flood policy, immediately call your insurance agent or broker about filing a claim. Some companies require you to file a claim directly with the NFIP.