Retired Navy veteran Marty Severson never expected a summer rain to submerge his Sparta, Wisconsin, home in seven feet of water. Marty lost almost everything he owned. Fortunately, his home was covered by flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) so he was able to avoid financial ruin.
National Preparedness Month is a time set aside to encourage families and communities to plan and prepare for disasters. Preparing for the unexpected is vital. For Marty, it made all the difference in his recovery. During this month of preparedness efforts, we wanted to share answers to five of the most commonly asked questions about the NFIP – to help you weather any storm that’s headed your way.
1. Do I need flood insurance?
Every property is vulnerable to flooding. Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. In fact, between 2015 and 2019, policyholders outside of high-risk areas filed more than 40% of all NFIP flood insurance claims.
Marty lived outside a high-risk area, but still decided to purchase a flood insurance policy. It’s a good thing he did – with flood insurance Marty was able to file a claim and receive an advanced payment, which helped him recover quickly.
Many people may think a homeowners insurance policy is enough, however, it doesn’t cover the cost of flood damage. Only a specific flood insurance policy does.
2. What factors go into determining my rate?
Your agent can give you specific information about your rate and coverage options, however, some factors may include:
- Your property’s flood risk (e.g., your mapped flood zone);
- The type or amount of coverage purchased (e.g. building and contents coverage are purchased separately, it’s important to make sure to have both for complete coverage);
- The design and age of your structure; and
- The location of your structure’s contents (e.g. elevated utilities may bring the rate down).
3. How do I get a flood insurance policy?
Your insurance company or agent can give you more information about the right coverage for you. If you need help finding an insurance provider, go to FloodSmart.gov or call the NFIP at 877-336-2627.
4. How do I start a claim after experiencing a flood?
Follow these steps to report a claim:
- If you are an NFIP policyholder and experience a flood, report your loss immediately to your insurance agent or carrier. If possible, take photos of any damage to the interior and exterior of your home. And be sure to ask about advance payments to jump start your recovery.
- Make an appointment with an insurance adjuster. In response to COVID-19, a remote inspection is an option FEMA is offering to policyholders who have experienced a flood.
- The adjuster will assess the damage to your home, either in person or remotely, to determine the amount of the claim, and answer any questions you may have about the process and what’s covered under your policy. For more information on starting a claim or the inspection process, visit FloodSmart.gov/start.
- If you need help finding your insurance agent or carrier, call the NFIP at 877-336-2627.
5. What is a mandatory purchase requirement?
If you own a property in a high-risk flood area, you may be required to have flood insurance. Homes and businesses in high-risk flood areas with government-backed mortgages are required to have flood insurance.
Even if you live outside the high-risk flood area and you aren’t federally required to have flood insurance, your lender may still require you to purchase a flood insurance policy.
Where it can rain, it can flood. You never know when rainfall may lead to a major flood. National Preparedness Month is a great time to make sure your home and belongings are prepared for the unexpected. Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information.