Home & Basement Flood Insurance: Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions about flood insurance.
Choose a question below to reveal the answer.
Do I need to purchase a flood policy?
You must live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to qualify for National Flood Insurance. Find out if your community participates in the NFIP and the kinds of NFIP resources available in your community.
Most likely, yes. It's a good idea to buy flood insurance even if you live in a moderate- or low-risk area. Anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. People outside of high-risk areas file over 20% of NFIP claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding. When it's available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest. You may qualify for the Preferred Risk Policy (a lower-cost flood insurance policy) that provides contents coverage beginning at $49 per year and building plus contents coverage beginning at $129 a year.
Flooding occurs in moderate-to-low risk areas as well as in high-risk areas. Poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, snowmelt, and broken water mains can all result in flood. Properties on a hillside can be damaged by mudflow, a covered peril under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. Structures located in high-risk flood areas have a significant chance (26 percent) of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage. In a high-risk area, your home is more than twice as likely to be damaged by a flood than by fire. For these reasons, flood insurance is required by law for buildings in high-risk flood areas as a condition of receiving a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.
Yes. If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and have received disaster assistance in the form of a federal grant or loan, you must cover the building for flood insurance for as long as you own it. Should you sell the building, you are required to inform the new owner of the necessity to purchase and maintain flood insurance. Failure to carry flood insurance could result in the denial of future federal disaster assistance.
Flood zones are land areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Each flood zone describes that land area in terms of its risk of flooding. Everyone lives in a flood zone — it's just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate, or high risk area.
Floods can occur in any area, although to varying degrees. If you live on a hill or in an area that has never been flooded, your risk may be significantly reduced, but it is not eliminated.
Flooding can be caused by heavy rains, melting snow, inadequate drainage systems, failed protective devices such as levees and dams, as well as by tropical storms and hurricanes. Please make an informed decision about the flood risks you face before deciding not to purchase flood insurance. Talk to your agent for additional details — you may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy (a lower-cost flood insurance policy).
Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) cannot reflect every variation in the physical geography of an area. Therefore, a FIRM occasionally will show a property as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), even though the building may be above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
However, there is a mechanism for resolving such a situation. A property owner can submit property and elevation materials in support of a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove the property from the SFHA. This process involves the property owner and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
For detailed information regarding the LOMA process, call FEMA at 1.877.336.2627
Everyone lives in a flood zone. The fact that a flood hasn't occurred within recorded history does not mean one hasn't happened in the past or that one will not happen in the future.
It's important to note that flood history is only one element used in determining flood risk. More critical determinations are made by evaluating your community's rainfall and river flow data, topography, wind velocity, tidal surge, flood control measures, building development (existing and planned) and community maps
How do I purchase a flood policy?
The National Flood Insurance Program has an arrangement with private insurance companies to sell and service flood insurance policies. A list of private insurance companies that sell and service NFIP flood insurance policies is available to you.
You may also contact your insurance agent or company to find out more about federal flood insurance or find an agent serving your area by filling out the Flood Risk Profile at www.floodsmart.gov.
Many private insurance companies offer Excess Flood Protection, which provides limits over and above those of the NFIP. For more information, contact your insurance agent or company, or find an agent serving your area by filling out the Flood Risk Profile at www.floodsmart.gov.
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.
If you live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you are eligible to purchase flood insurance. Nearly 21,000 communities participate, and it's likely that yours is one of them. See a list of participating NFIP communities and learn more about NFIP in your community.
To buy a flood insurance policy, call your insurance agent or company, or find an agent serving your area by filling out the Flood Risk Profile at www.floodsmart.gov.
What is covered by a flood policy?
Flood coverage limits for a standard flood policy are:
The Preferred Risk Policy offers multiple coverage combinations for both buildings and contents (or contents-only, for renters) that are located in moderate-to-low risk areas (B, C, and X Zones). Preferred Risk Policies are available for residential and non-residential buildings located in these zones that meet eligibility requirements based on the building's entire flood loss history.
Flood insurance covers your home's foundation elements and equipment that's necessary to support the structure (for example, furnace, water heaters, circuit breakers, etc.).
It's important to note that some items in your basement are covered under building coverage (like a furnace, hot water heater and circuit breaker) and others are covered under contents coverage that must be purchased in addition to building coverage (for example, your washer, dryer and your freezer and the food in it).
The NFIP encourages people to purchase both building and contents coverage. Flood insurance does not cover basement improvements, such as finished walls, floors, ceilings or personal belongings that may be kept in a basement. For a complete list of what's covered, view the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) Forms.
Yes, providing that, if confined to your property, the flood water covers at least two acres. A general condition of flood also exists if two properties are affected, one of which is yours
No. When rain enters through a wind-damaged window or door, or comes through a hole in a wall or roof, the NFIP considers the resulting puddles and damage to be windstorm-related, not flood-related.
Flood insurance covers overflow of inland or tidal waters and unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source. However, the flood must 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 yours). Although flood insurance specifically excludes wind and hail damage, the good news is that most homeowners insurance provides such coverage.
If a flood damages your property, you may be required by law to bring your home up to community and/or state floodplain management standards. If you have NFIP insurance, and your home has been declared substantially damaged by your community, ICC coverage is provided to cover up to $30,000 of the cost to elevate, flood proof, demolish, or relocate your property. ICC coverage is in addition to the coverage you receive to repair flood damages; however, the total payout on a policy may not exceed $250,000 for residential buildings and $500,000 for non-residential buildings.
Most likely. There is generally a 30-day waiting period from the time an insurance policy is purchased to when it actually goes into effect. The exception to the 30-day wait rule is that if insurance is a requirement of a loan upon closing, the 30-day wait will be waived
Building and contents policies have separate deductibles for each. This means that if your building and contents are both damaged due to a flood event, both deductibles are applied.
For more information about deductibles, contact your insurance agent or company, or fill out the Flood Risk Profile to find an agent serving your area
Only one building and its contents can be insured on each policy.
All policies expire at 12:01 a.m. on the last day of the effective term, but you remain covered for 30 days after the expiration of the policy. Claims for losses that occur in this grace period will be honored, provided that the full renewal premium is paid by the end of the 30-day period.
Some will be. When your insured home is in imminent danger of being flooded, you may receive up to a $1,000 reimbursement for your damage-preventing expenses. Things like renting storage space to protect your belongings, buying sandbags and lumber to make a barricade, and renting pumps are all things that qualify for reimbursement. No deductible is applied to this coverage.
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.
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 bring this matter to the attention of the Department of Financial Services by filing a complaint.
Please click on the following link for information about how to file a complaint: http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm
If you carry comprehensive coverage (optional) on your automobile vehicle policy, then the direct, sudden damage to your vehicle resulting from hail, water or flood would be covered minus any applicable deductible. Contact your insurer or agent for specific claims information.
Yes, there are limits. Homeowners can insure their home for up to $250,000 and its contents for up to $100,000. Renters can cover their belongings for up to $100,000. Nonresidential property owners can insure a building and its contents for up to $500,000 each.
Report your claim as soon as possible. Use sand bags, tarps or other materials to prevent additional damage to your home. Take photos of damage to your home, such as soaked carpets and drywall, and personal belongings before disposing of the items. Share the photos with your adjuster as well as receipts of any materials purchased to prevent additional damage.
Remember, if the damage resulted from a flood, you must have flood insurance to receive payment for repairs.
What is the cost of a flood policy?
It is essential that you contact your insurance agent to determine exact costs. However, if you'd like to receive a general idea of how much your premium will cost or find an agent serving your area, fill out the Flood Risk Profile at www.floodsmart.gov.
A number of factors are considered when determining your flood insurance premium. These factors include: the amount and type of coverage being purchased, location and flood zone, and the design and age of your structure. For homes in high-risk areas (e.g., Special Flood Hazard Areas or AE, VE Zones) built after the first Flood Insurance Rate Maps were drawn for that community, the elevation of the building in relation to the base flood elevation is also required. For more information, visit Flooding and Flood Risks or download Flood Insurance Basics [PDF 27KB] to learn more.
It's possible that you qualify for a discount based on your community's participation and status in the Community Rating System program. For more information, visit CRS Ratings and You.
You can pay your insurance premium with a credit card (American Express, Diners Club, Discover Card, Master Card or Visa) or with cash, check or money order. Your premium may be paid through an escrow account established by your mortgage lender, at your lender's discretion.
If your lender requires you to buy flood insurance and escrows for other types of insurance or taxes, they are required to also escrow flood insurance premium payments. Your payment for coverage is due to your agent with your application. For details, ask your insurance agent or lender.
Yes. The Preferred Risk Policy is available in moderate-to-low risk areas for as little as $129 per year.