HUNT VALLEY, Md. – People who live near water are not the only ones who experience flooding. Floods can move and spread for miles. Flash floods can begin and end within just hours, cutting a path of major destruction.
One of the ways you can protect yourself is with flood insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers this important insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP was created by Congress in 1968 to provide flood insurance at a reasonable cost in exchange for careful management by local communities of flood-prone areas.
Flood insurance provides coverage that your homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t – coverage for damages caused by floods.
Here are some facts you should know about flood insurance:
- Homeowners, business owners and renters all can purchase flood insurance as long as their community participates in the NFIP.
- Flood insurance claims are paid even if a federal disaster is not declared by the President.
- You do not have to live in a floodplain to buy flood insurance. In fact, more than 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from medium- or low-risk flood areas.
- Compared to a fire, people in floodplains are nearly four times more likely to have a flood during their 30-year mortgage.
- You can buy flood insurance from licensed insurance agents.
- Flood insurance coverage is available for residential and business structures and contents. A single-family home can be insured for up to $250,000. An additional $100,000 can be purchased for contents. Commercial buildings can be insured for up to $500,000. Business contents can be covered for up to $500,000.
- Renters can purchase contents coverage for up to $100,000 to cover personal belongings.
- If you have a home-based business, you’ll need to purchase separate coverage for the business and/or contents. Coverage is not automatically included under a homeowner’s flood insurance policy, even if the business is located inside your home.
- A flood insurance policy can be written to cover actions taken to prevent flood damages. These actions can include moving the insured contents to a safe place and/or the cost of purchasing sandbags, plastic sheeting, lumber, pumps, etc.
- A flood insurance claim will reimburse you for your covered losses and never has to be repaid, unlike a disaster assistance loan.
Okay, so now you’re interested in flood insurance. How do you go about getting a policy and what else do you need to know?
- Contact your insurance agent and tell them you would like more information about flood insurance. The agent will be able to determine whether your community participates in the NFIP. Flood insurance from the NFIP is only available in participating communities. The agent should also be able to tell you what is covered and how much your policy will cost.
- The cost will be determined in part by whether you live in a floodplain, also known as Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Your local building official(s) should have maps showing if there are Special Flood Hazard Areas and where they are. You can determine whether you are in a low, medium or high-risk area by checking these maps.
- Those who are located outside the floodplain may be able to get a Preferred Risk Policy. These policies offer fixed combinations of building and contents coverage at set prices.
- Another way to reduce your premium is through an elevation rating. If the lowest floor of your house is above the base flood elevation (predicted flood depth in your area), you can qualify for lower rates. Local officials can help determine the base flood elevation for your home, however, the homeowner will need to provide an elevation certificate.
Even so, the cost of flood insurance is far cheaper than having to pay thousands of dollars to repair your home or replace contents because a flood caught you off guard.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.