Flood Insurance Resource Center
While floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, insurance coverage for losses from floods is not provided in standard homeowners or tenants policies. Insurance for flood damages is generally available under a separate policy issued through the National Flood Insurance Program.
What is a flood?
A flood is an excess of water (or mud) on land that is normally dry. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) defines flood to be a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area, or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder’s property) from:
- Overflow of inland or tidal waters;
- Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;
- Mudflow; or
- Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining, caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels.
What is Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance is a special policy that is federally backed by the NFIP and available to homeowners, renters and businesses.
You may purchase flood insurance covering up to $250,000 of flood damage to your home. A standard flood policy will cover structural damage, including damage to the furnace, water heater, air conditioner, floor surfaces (carpeting and tile) and debris clean-up.
The contents of your home are not covered under a standard flood policy, but for an additional premium, you also may purchase flood coverage for up to $100,000 of damage to your personal property.
Coverage for basements, crawlspaces and ground-level enclosures on elevated homes is limited. If your home has these spaces, be sure to ask your insurance agent about any restrictions in your coverage.
Flood is not covered under your basic renters insurance policy. Talk with your insurance agent about your flooding risks to decide if you need flood coverage for your belongings.
A flood insurance policy coverage will cover up to $500,000 on a non-residential building and its contents.
How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the average homeowners flood insurance premium is approximately $500 a year.
Premiums for flood insurance will vary depending on your risk level for a flood loss, the amount of coverage you choose, the type of coverage you need and your deductible.
How Do I Buy Flood Insurance?
You can purchase flood insurance for your home or business regardless of whether the property is in a floodplain. Contact your insurance agent or company to find out if your community participates in the NFIP. You can also visit www.floodsmart.gov to get more information about your flood risk.
Plan Ahead: Flood Insurance has a Waiting Period
It is very important to plan ahead. A flood insurance policy normally will not go into effect until 30 days after you purchase the policy.
What Should I Do if My Property is Damaged Due to a Flood?
If you have a flood insurance policy, the first step to take is to begin the claim process by filing a claim with your insurance agent, broker or company. The insurance company will send an adjuster out to review the damages and assess whether they are covered by the policy.
If a federal disaster declaration is issued for the flood, you can also apply to FEMA for disaster assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). You may apply for this disaster assistance whether you have insurance or not.
Finally, if you feel you have been treated unfairly by an insurance company, insurance agent, broker or adjuster, or any other licensee of the New York State Department of Financial Services, you are urged to file a complaint.
- Make a home inventory of your personal property. Photos and video of your home, as well as sales receipts and the model and serial numbers of items, will make filing a claim simpler. In addition, add insurance information to your inventory information; i.e., the name of your insurance company and agent, policy numbers and contact information. Your insurance provider should be able to provide you with a sample inventory to use or you can use our Home Inventory Checklist to help you get started.
- Move all of your important documents to a safe location. Take them with you when you evacuate or store them in a safe deposit box outside the area.
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