Flood Insurance: Do You Need It?
UPDATED: July 17, 2020
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The least you should know...
- Flood insurance is required in certain designated flood-prone areas
- Many who don't live in those areas don't think about flood insurance until they experience flooding
- Homeowners insurance alone won't cover flood damage
Flood insurance is a home insurance topic that many of us don't fully understand. When you buy a home, your lender will either require you to obtain flood insurance or it won't. While purchasing a home on a lake or a river will likely require flood coverage, others who live nowhere near water later wish they purchased coverage. So, do you need flood insurance?
If you have flood insurance and need to make a claim, contacting an insurance attorney experienced with flood insurance claims might help. You can search for an experienced attorney by putting your ZIP code into our search tool.
What is flood insurance?
Flood insurance essentially covers homeowners when their home has been damaged by water. However, homeowners' insurance policies do not provide for flood insurance coverage. To obtain that, you must go through the National Flood Insurance Program which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). So, when do you need it?
For homeowners living very close to water, coverage is almost a given and will likely be required by your lender. For homeowners living somewhat near water, coverage is generally determined on a case by case basis depending upon the topography of your land.
For those homeowners who don't live near water at all, coverage may be seen as a waste of money — especially since it's generally not required. It's this last group of homeowners who are continually caught by surprise.
What type of insurance is flood insurance?
Flood insurance by definition is a form of property insurance separate from a normal homeowners insurance policy.
What does flood insurance cost?
Flood insurance covers all water and related damage to a property caused by flooding.
Is all flood insurance through FEMA?
Flood insurance available from the National Flood Insurance Program comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Though they are a major provider of flood insurance, they're certainly not the only provider.
Who can buy flood insurance?
Flood insurance is available for all properties. It may be required for properties in flood zones, but is available everywhere in the United States. The average cost of flood insurance is $700 per year, but can vary substantially based on elevation and how flood-prone the area is.
Not in a Flood Zone, But Flooded
That's what many homeowners have experienced with the recent floods in the Midwestern states. A local Kalamazoo, Michigan paper, the Kalamazoo Gazette, recently focused on one couple whose house was nowhere near water, but was flooded nonetheless.
The couple, Norron and Gretchen Lee, doesn't live anywhere near a body of water. However, recent heavy rains caused severe flooding in their area and their home sustained nearly $60,000 in flood damage. Unfortunately for the couple, their homeowners' policy doesn't cover their losses and they were told that they didn't need flood insurance. They told the Gazette that they would have purchased the insurance had they known that something like this could have happened.
Understanding Flood Insurance Coverage
Too many homeowners assume that if their home is not in a flood zone that their homeowners' policy will pick up the tab. As the Lees realized, that's simply not the case.
Homeowners should discuss the matter with their insurance agent and find out from neighbors and town officials if any type of flooding has occurred in the area in the past few years.
The Last Word on Flood Insurance
Most people don't think much about flood insurance. Either they live in an area where flood insurance is required and they buy it or they assume that damage from flooding will be covered by a homeowners insurance policy.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Like in the example of the Lees, some homeowners are surprised to learn that flood damage isn't covered even if they don't live in a flood zone.
Did we answer all your questions about flood insurance?
As always, if you're ever in doubt as to whether something is or isn't covered on your insurance policy and can't get a straight answer from your insurer, contact an insurance bad faith attorney to discuss your situation without charge or obligation. You can begin your search for an insurance attorney by putting your ZIP code into our search tool.