What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

Flooded home in the process of being demolishedThe National Flood Insurance Program will cover your building property up to  $250,000, and/or your personal property up to $100,000. Image: Sharon  Karr/FEMA

To understand what flood insurance covers, you need to know three things  first:

1. Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood  damage at all. It’ll cover some damage from rain, but if your home is filled  with water as a result of rising bodies of lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans,  it won’t cover you.

2. The most common flood insurance is offered through the federally regulated  program known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It has two  policies: One that covers your actual home (building property) up to  $250,000. One that covers your personal property up to $100,000.

You can buy one or both.

3. You might have to buy it. If you’re taking out a mortgage on a  property that’s in a high-risk zone (also called a Special Hazard Flood Area),  your lender will require you to buy a policy in order to get the loan. If you  just want to buy policy, you have to make sure your community participates in the national flood  program. Flooding affects every state, so you’re probably eligible.

What the Federal Flood  Insurance Program Covers:

NFIP’s building property policy covers the cost to rebuild or the actual  value of your home (whichever is less). That includes:

  • Your home and its foundation
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • HVAC equipment like air conditioning, furnaces, and water heaters
  • Kitchen appliances, including your refrigerator, stove, and built-ins such  as your dishwasher
  • Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
  • Permanently installed wallboard, paneling, bookcases, and cabinets
  • Window blinds
  • Detached garages (limited to 10% of your home policy)
  • Debris removal
  • Water heater

The NFIP policy that covers your personal property will cover stuff  like:

  • Clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment
  • Curtains
  • Window AC units
  • Portable microwaves and dishwashers
  • Carpets not covered by your building policy
  • Washer/dryers
  • Your freezer and frozen food
  • Up to $2,500 in valuables, such as art and furs

Note: Personal possessions claims are paid based on actual cash value — not  what you paid for them.

What Isn’t Covered:

Typically, if it belongs in a bank or safe deposit box, it’s not covered:

  • Precious metals, Stock certificates, Bearer Bonds, Cash

Other items not covered:

  • Trees, Plants, Wells, Septic Systems, Walkways
  • Decks, Patios, Fences, Hot Tubs, Sewer Backups
  • Swimming Pools, Boat Houses, Retaining Walls
  • Storm Shelters
  • Temporary housing and other living expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Cars
  • Post-flood mold damage (more  about insurance and mold here)

Coverage is Limited for Basements:

If you have a basement, you’ll have more risk because the NFIP limits  coverage for basements, crawlspaces, or any living space where the floor is  below ground level. Even a walkout basement won’t be covered for:
  • Bookcases
  • Window treatments
  • Carpeting, tile, and other floor coverings
  • Some drywall, depending on how far below ground level it is
  • Paneling
  • Walls and ceilings not made of drywall
  • Most personal property such as clothing, electronic equipment, kitchen  supplies, and furniture

There’s a Limit to How Often You Can Collect:

If you make four or more flood claims for more than $5,000 each, or two  claims that, added together, cost more than your home, NFIP will

“offer” you a  grant to make your home less vulnerable to floods. If you refuse to take the  grant money and make the improvements, your policy payments will probably  increase substantially.

If a Flood Severely Damages Your Home:

NFIP may give you $30,000 to use to raise, tear down, or move your home. That  $30,000 gets added on to any other claim NFIP pays you. But the total still  can’t go above $250,000.

How Much Does It Cost?

The average cost is about $600 for a one-year premium; your insurance  company, which issues the policy, can give you a quote. Ultimately, the amount  depends on such factors as the amount of coverage, deductible, the risk level of  your flood zone, and the age of the building.

More About What Qualifies as a Flood:

As mentioned earlier, regular homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods. So  when is damage considered to be caused by a flood?

  • Water has to cover at least 2 acres of land that’s normally dry, or has to  have damaged two or more properties (one being your home).

Also, the water has to come from:

  • Overflowing inland or tidal waters
  • Unusual, rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any  source
  • Mudflow (that’s mud carried by a flow of water, creating a river of  mud)
You’re also covered when shorefront land collapses or sinks due to waters  above “anticipated cyclical levels.”

Water and seepage that comes from sewer or drain backups, or a sump pump that  overflows is not considered a flood.


  • Don’t wait for an impending storm to purchase federal flood insurance.  There’s usually a 30-day waiting period. Some private policies offer a 15-day  waiting period.
amy vulpis_atlantic properties international galt ocean mile

Amy Vulpis is a full-time real estate professional with Atlantic Properties International, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, FL who specializes in luxury waterfront property.  She is dedicated to providing her clients with superior customer service.  For any questions regarding buying, selling or leasing or more information on the South Florida Real Estate market contact Amy Vulpis, Realtor @ 954.591.4280 or visit www.amyvulpis.com.

This article is for educational purpose only, for more information regarding home and flood insurance, contact a licensed insurance agent who specializes in your area.

Article Courtesy of HouseLogic, by Dona DeZube

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