Flood insurance 101: 8 facts about covering your home and belongings

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Important information about flood insurance
Important information about flood insurance

While some people are required to have flood insurance, there are those outside the flood plains who might have questions about how to cover their homes and everything inside.

Here are eight things you need to know about flood insurance:

When is flood insurance mandatory?

You must purchase flood insurance if the following applies to you:

  • You own a home or business in a high-risk area, sometimes known as a Special Flood Hazard Area.
  • You have a mortgage from a federally-regulated or insured lender.

Do I really need flood insurance?

Just one inch of water can cost more than $20,000 in repairs and replacements, and flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S., according to FEMA. Even if your home is not in a flood plain, you can still find yourself underwater after a heavy storm.

What flood insurance covers

If you have physical damage to a building or your possessions directly caused by a flood, these are generally covered by flood insurance, according to FEMA. But, you have to be able to show the damage is a direct result of flooding.

What flood insurance doesn't cover

If your patio furniture is carried away in the floods, tough luck. According to the National Flood Insurance Project, property outside an insured home or building is not included. So, for example, if your patio rots or has mold damage, insurance won't cover the cost to rebuild the deck.

Homeowner's insurance and flood insurance aren't the same

Some people have been lulled into a false sense of security because they have homeowner's insurance. Unfortunately, renters insurance and homeowners insurance doesn't usually cover flood damage, which could mean you'll have to shell out your own money for costly repairs and to replace the things you own.

Federal disaster assistance doesn't always help

If you think you might just rely on Uncle Sam in case of a flood emergency, think again. FEMA said these monies won't always pay for flood damage, and you'll end up owing interest in the end that could up the cost of repairs.

When is it too late to get flood insurance?

For these approaching storms, you're out of time. In general, flood insurance policies do not take effect until 30 days after purchase. FEMA said there are exceptions however, including:

  • Policies purchased in connection with making, increasing, extending or renewing a home loan.
  • Changes to area flood maps that could waive the waiting period.

Ask your insurance provider whether you may qualify for immediate coverage.

How much is flood insurance?

Some homeowners can purchase flood insurance for as low as $137 per year, but it depends on where you live.