Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Floods?

The answer may surprise you.

Most people regularly insure themselves against the uncertainties of life: car accidents, burglary and critical illnesses, for example. But when it comes to floods, they roll the dice and take their chances, erroneously believing that their Florida home insurance will cover flood costs.

That could be a dangerous assumption; Florida homeowners insurance is quite distinct from Florida flood insurance. Consider: according to FEMA, flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States. A flood is defined as a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow. While your Florida home insurance may cover things like burst water pipes or leaky appliances, it does not cover floods.

On the Florida coast, your chances of being flooded are much greater than some of the other risks you face daily. For example, if you’re in a high-risk flood area as defined by FEMA’s Flood Insurance Study, there is a 1 in 4 chance that you will be flooded during your 30-year mortgage. (Discover your Florida flood zone risk by visiting www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/understanding_flood_maps.jsp). Put another way, you are 27 times more likely to experience a flood than falling victim to a fire. * Compare your odds of experiencing a flood to other events:

Event % chance of happening during the next year
25-year flood 4 chances in 100
Involved in a car accident 3 chances in 100
Some form of cancer 3 chances in 100
Victim of larceny 2 chances in 100

Source: Floods and Your Family brochure, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Of course, certain areas are more susceptible to flooding than others but make no mistake: Flood damage can happen to anyone. According to floodsmart.gov, just one inch of water can cause costly damage to your Florida coastal home. The total financial loss for a 2,000 square foot home in the event of one foot of flooding is estimated at $52,220…not even counting mud and residue cleanup.

Fortunately, in 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves against the economic loss due to flooding. Florida flood insurance can only be purchased through an insurance agent; you cannot buy it directly through the federal government. Since flood insurance is a government-backed program, premiums are regulated and surprisingly affordable.

How affordable? Your specific cost for Florida flood insurance depends on whether you are eligible for coverage at a preferred rate, offering building and personal contents coverage for one low price, or a high-risk, standard-rated policy, offering separate building and contents coverage. Most Florida coastal counties are considered high risk.

The good news is, once you are covered by Florida flood insurance for your oceanfront home or other property, you can rest a little easier, knowing you are protected against huge financial outlays caused by flooding. You are covered if:

  • A nearby river floods its bank and washes into your home.
  • Surface water caused by heavy rains seeps into your basement.
  • A Florida flood causes the hill behind your home to collapse into a mudslide.
  • A tropical storm stalls over your community and quickly overwhelms storm drains.

In all these incidents and many more, you can anticipate quick handling of your claim. You can even request a partial payment immediately after the Flood, which can help you get your life back to normal quickly.

Only flood insurance covers floods…not Florida home insurance, Florida property insurance or Florida hurricane insurance policies. Unless your home is a new purchase, there is a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect. That means now is the best time to buy flood insurance, before floodwaters begin to rise. To find out more about Florida flood insurance protection, contact your Frontline flood insurance agent.

*http://Floodsafety.com/national/property/risk/index.htm

Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.