Every year around this time consumers start to hear about flood insurance again. It is Hurricane season! Once a storm becomes imminent, it may be too late. Maybe you think you will be covered by your homeowners’ policy, but will you?
Homeowners insurance provides coverage for wind damage to your dwelling, the detached units, and personal property. Your homeowners insurance may also cover living expenses if you have to evacuate your home. If the damage to your home is caused by floodwaters a standard homeowners policy will not cover you. Only flood insurance will cover the damage directly caused by water from a flood even if the flooding is the result of a hurricane.
Flooding can occur for reasons other than a Hurricane. If your home is in a flood zone you need flood insurance. If you have a mortgage on your home or business from a federally regulated or insured lender and are in a flood zone you need to have flood insurance. If you live in a flood zone and have had a loss associated with a flood following a Presidential Disaster Declaration, you need flood insurance to receive FEMA relief in the future. The best way to check if your property is in a flood zone is to go to FEMA’s website, check my address.
If you are a renter, you should think about having rental insurance for your personal items because the owners’ policy will not cover your belongings.
Do I have to worry about this if I don’t live in a flood zone? The short answer is yes. From time to time, flood maps are revised because of changes such as; weather patterns, erosion and new development. When you renew your policies each year, you should check with your insurance provider to see if the flood map for your community has been revised.
If your home is located in a federal flood zone, you can purchase flood insurance through the NFIP, (The National Flood Insurance Program). The federal program provides coverage up to $250,00 for your dwelling and $100,000 for personal property. If the value of your home exceeds the NFIP limit, you might be required to purchase additional coverage from a private insurer.
In addition, flood insurance, unlike homeowners insurance, is not active immediately; it takes 30 days for the policy to be effective. So the take home message is to look at these things weeks before a storm is heading your way, not days!
If you have questions regarding whether you need flood insurance, visit FloodSmart.gov. You can contact the National Flood Insurance Program to find participating insurers. Additional questions can be directed to your insurance agent or mortgage loan officer who will know what the lender requirements are regarding flood insurance.