FAQ: Flood

(See policy for specific limitations)


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My mortgage company told me I do not need flood insurance since I am in a preferred risk flood zone.
Yes, that is correct, however for the purposes of obtaining your mortgage only.

Floods are the #1 natural disaster in the United States.

Nearly 25% of all flood losses happen in low to moderate risk areas.

Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

From 2007 to 2011, the average residential flood claim amounted to almost $30,000. Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself from a devastating financial loss.

Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters and commercial owners/renters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers and the property’s flood risk.

All policy forms provide coverage for buildings and contents. However, you might want to discuss insuring personal property, since contents coverage is optional. Typically there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before your policy goes into effect.

What is a flood?
Under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) a flood is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land by:

The overflow of inland or tidal waters.

The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.

Mudslides (i.e., mudflows) which are proximately caused by flooding, as defined above and are akin to a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, including your premises, as when earth is carried by a current of water and deposited along the path of the current.

The collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or other body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding the cyclical levels which result in flood as defined above.

To qualify as a general and temporary condition, the flood must affect either two or more adjacent properties or two or more acres of land and have a distinct beginning point and ending point.

Also, to qualify, the flood waters can only be surface water that covers land that is normally dry.

What does flood insurance cover?
The Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) Forms contain complete definitions of the coverages they provide. Direct physical losses caused by “floods” are covered. Also covered are losses resulting from flood-related erosion caused by waves or currents of water activity exceeding anticipated cyclical levels or caused by a severe storm, flash flood, abnormal tidal surge or the like, which result in flooding, as defined. Damage caused by mudslides (i.e., mudflows), as specifically defined in the policy forms, is covered.

When will my policy go into effect?
There is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy can become effective. In most instances, the insurance producer who writes your policy can provide you with the date that your policy should go into effect.

I don’t have flood insurance, but doesn’t my homeowners insurance cover this?
Most homeowners insurance does NOT cover damage or losses from flooding. Some damage to your property may have been caused by something other than flooding. Look at your policy and see your homeowners insurance agent for more information about what types of damage are covered by your policy.

How can I tell what caused the damage to my property?
Flooding is defined as rising waters. Damage caused by falling water and wind is not considered flood damage. Please talk to your flood insurance agent and/or your homeowners insurance company for more information about what is covered under your policy.

What is an elevation certificate?
If you have determined that your house lies in a flood zone, a flood elevation certificate can then tell you how high your house was built in relation to that flood zone.

What is the 50% rule?
If your elevation certificate shows that your house is low, then the so-called “50% rule” would apply to your house.

This rule means that if your house is in a flood zone and is damaged and/or improved to an amount greater than 50% of its market value, it will have to be raised to meet the current elevation requirement.

Does flood insurance cover flood damage caused by hurricanes, rivers or tidal waters?
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.

What is the preferred risk policy (PRP)?
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 or non-residential buildings also located in these zones and that meet eligibility requirements based on the building’s entire flood loss history.

What are flood zones?
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.