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.
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
- Window AC units
- Portable microwaves and dishwashers
- Carpets not covered by your building policy
- 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.
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
Temporary housing and other living expenses
Loss of income
Post-flood mold damage (more about insurance and mold here)
Coverage is Limited for Basements:
- Window treatments
- Carpeting, tile, and other floor coverings
- Some drywall, depending on how far below ground level it is
- 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)
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.
- Make an inventory of the possessions in your home to make filing a claim easier.
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