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Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ


Considering Purchasing a Policy
Doesn't my homeowners insurance policy cover flooding?
No. Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy.
If my home is flooded, won't federal disaster assistance pay for my damages?
Not necessarily. Federal disaster assistance typically comes in the form of a low interest loan to help cover flood damage, not compensation for your losses. Even then, those loans are only available if the president formally declares a disaster and must be repaid along with any existing mortgage.
Am I eligible for flood insurance?
You must live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to qualify for National Flood Insurance. Find out if your community participates in the NFIP and the kinds of NFIP resources available in your community.
Can I get flood insurance if I'm renting a property?
If you live in a community that participates in the NFIP, you can get flood insurance to cover the contents of your home or business.
I live in a low-risk flood zone. Do I really need flood insurance?
Even though flood insurance isn't federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20-percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding. When it's available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low-price.
Why do I need flood insurance, even though my community has never been flooded?
Flooding occurs in moderate- to low-risk areas as well as in high-risk areas. Poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, snowmelt, and broken water mains can all result in flood. Properties on a hillside can be damaged by mudflow, a covered peril under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. For these reasons, flood insurance is required by law for buildings in high-risk flood areas as a condition of receiving a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.
Why does my mortgage lender require me to buy flood insurance?
Under federal law, the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory for all federal or federally related financial assistance for the acquisition and/or construction of buildings in high-risk flood areas (Special Flood Hazard Areas or SFHAs).

The amount of flood insurance coverage required by the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, as amended by the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994, is the lesser of the following:

  1. The maximum amount of NFIP coverage available for the particular property type,
  2. The outstanding principal balance of the loan, or
  3. The insurable value of the structure.


If the property is not in a high-risk area, but instead in a moderate- to low-risk area, federal law does not require flood insurance; however, a lender can still require it. In fact, over 20-percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas outside of mapped high-risk flood zones. Note that if during the life of the loan the maps are revised and the property is now in the high-risk area, your lender will notify you that you must purchase flood insurance.
Is there a low-cost policy for homes in moderate- to low-risk areas?
Yes. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low-price.
I'm not in a high-risk area, but I'd like flood coverage. Is this possible?
Yes! You are eligible to purchase a flood policy with the same coverage you would receive if you lived in a high-risk area. That is, of course, as long as your community participates in the NFIP. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low-price.
After my home was damaged in a flood, I received federal disaster assistance. Do I need to purchase flood insurance now?
Yes. If you live in an SFHA and have received disaster assistance in the form of a federal grant or loan, you must cover the building for flood insurance for as long as you own it. Should you sell the building, you are required to inform the new owner of the necessity to purchase and maintain flood insurance. Failure to carry flood insurance could result in the denial of future federal disaster assistance.
Who do I contact if I want to purchase a flood insurance policy?
The National Flood Insurance Program has an arrangement with private insurance companies to sell and service flood insurance policies. A list of private insurance companies that sell and service NFIP flood insurance policies is available to you.

You may also contact your insurance agent or company to find out more about federal flood insurance or find an agent serving your area by filling out the Flood Risk Profile.
What if I want to purchase more insurance than the NFIP offers?
Many private insurance companies offer Excess Flood Protection, which provides limits over and above those of the NFIP. For more information, contact your insurance agent or company, or find an agent serving your area by filling out the Flood Risk Profile.
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Flood Zones
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.
How do I find out whether or not my property is at risk, and if it is, at what level?
Fill out the Flood Risk Profile to find your flood risk.
What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and how do I use it?
A FIRM is a map created by the NFIP for floodplain management and insurance purposes. Digital versions of these maps are called DFIRMs.

A FIRM will generally show a community's base flood elevations, flood zones, and floodplain boundaries. As a property owner/renter, you can use this map to get a reliable indication of what flood zone you're in. However, maps are constantly being updated due to changes in geography, construction and mitigation activities, and meteorological events. Therefore, for a truly accurate determination, contact your insurance agent or company, or your community floodplain manager.
What is a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)?
Land areas that are at high risk for flooding are called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), or floodplains. These areas are indicated on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage.
What is a Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA)?
A Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA) is an area that is in a moderate- to low-risk flood zone (Zones B, C, X Pre- and Post-FIRM). An NSFHA is not in any immediate danger from flooding caused by overflowing rivers or hard rains.

However, it’s important to note that structures within a NSFHA are still at risk. In fact, over 20-percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas outside of mapped high-risk flood zones. Get the facts before you decide that your property is not at risk.
Is there a special risk-rating procedure for coastal high hazard areas (V zones)?
Yes. When calculating the risk of a V zone property, the formula takes into account the ability of the building to withstand the impact of wave action.
What is the Coastal Barrier Resource System (CBRS)?
The CBRS is a system of protected coastal areas that includes ocean-front land, the Great Lakes and Other Protected Areas (OPAs).

Coastal barriers serve as important buffers between coastal storms and inland areas, often protecting properties on land from serious flood damage. Also, coastal barriers provide a protective habitat for aquatic plants and animals.

The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 restricted development on the CBRS, in an effort to protect the barrier system and prevent future flood damage. If you live in a CBRS area, you are eligible for federally regulated flood insurance only if your property was built before 1982 and your community participates in the NFIP. Read more about CBRS
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Risk Assessments
Why do I need flood insurance if I live on a hill and will never get flooded?
Floods can occur in any area, although to varying degrees. If you live on a hill or in an area that has never been flooded, your risk may be significantly reduced, but it is not eliminated.

Flooding can be caused by heavy rains, melting snow, inadequate drainage systems, failed protective devices such as levees and dams, as well as by tropical storms and hurricanes. Please make an informed decision about the flood risks you face before deciding not to purchase flood insurance. Talk to your agent for additional details – you may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy (a lower-cost flood insurance policy).
Why does the risk assessment tool say I'm in a high-risk area when the ground my home is built on is very high?
Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) cannot reflect every variation in the physical geography of an area. Therefore, a FIRM occasionally will show a property as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), even though the building may be above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).

However, there is a mechanism for resolving such a situation. A property owner can submit property and elevation materials in support of a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove the property from the SFHA. This process involves the property owner and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

For detailed information regarding the LOMA process, call toll free at 1.877.336.2627.
My community has never been flooded. Why do I show up in a moderate- to low-risk area?
Everyone lives in a flood zone. The fact that a flood hasn't occurred within recorded history does not mean one hasn't happened in the past or that one will not happen in the future.

It’s important to note that flood history is only one element used in determining flood risk. More critical determinations are made by evaluating your community’s rainfall and river flow data, topography, wind velocity, tidal surge, flood control measures, building development (existing and planned) and community maps.
Why does my address not show up in your database?
Our data comes from maps that are available in a digital format. Most communities are mapped; however yours may not be digitally available at this time. FEMA is currently facilitating a national effort to update and digitize all maps. Learn more about flood hazard mapping
Why does my risk show up as "undetermined"?
Undetermined risk typically occurs in sparsely populated areas and means that a flood hazard analysis has not yet been conducted. Your agent can help you determine your risk level and give you more information on coverage that will be right for you.
Do insurance companies or agents use this tool to determine premium rates?
No. This tool was created to help you understand your relative risk level, which is one only element used to determine your premium rates.

Along with flood zone information, agents will review location, the age and design of the building, occupancy, and the amount of coverage requested. Additionally, for buildings located in Special Flood Hazard Areas, agents must consider the elevation of the building in relation to the base flood elevation.
Where can I find more information on the maps that were used to determine my relative risk level?
FEMA publishes maps indicating a community's flood hazard areas and the degree of risk in those areas. Flood insurance maps usually are on file in a local repository in the community, such as the planning and zoning or engineering offices in the town hall or the county building.

In addition, you can order maps online or by writing, phoning, or faxing a request to the FEMA Map Assistance Center. There is a minimal charge for maps for most users.
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Types of Flood Insurance
How much flood insurance coverage is available?
Flood coverage limits for a standard flood policy are:

Coverage Type Coverage Limit One to four-family structure $250,000 One to four-family home contents $100,000 Other residential structures $500,000 Other residential contents $100,000 Business structure $500,000 Business contents $500,000 Renter contents $100,000
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 is covered in my basement?
Flood insurance covers your home's foundation elements and equipment that's necessary to support the structure (for example: furnace, water heaters, circuit breakers, etc.).

It's important to note that some items in your basement are covered under building coverage (like a furnace, hot water heater and circuit breaker) and others are covered under contents coverage that must be purchased in addition to building coverage (for example, your washer and dryer, or your freezer and the food in it).

The NFIP encourages people to purchase both building and contents coverage. Flood insurance does not cover basement improvements, such as finished walls, floors, ceilings or personal belongings that may be kept in a basement. For a complete list of what’s covered, view the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) Forms.
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.
Is flood damage from wind-driven rain covered?
No. When rain enters through a wind-damaged window or door, or comes through a hole in a wall or roof, the NFIP considers the resulting puddles and damage to be windstorm-related, not flood-related.

Flood insurance covers overflow of inland or tidal waters and unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source. However, the flood must be a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is yours). Although flood insurance specifically excludes wind and hail damage, the good news is that most homeowners insurance provides such coverage.
What is Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage?

If a flood damages your home or business, you may be required by law or ordinance to meet certain building compliancy requirements in your community to reduce future flood damage. To help with these costs, the National Flood Insurance Program includes Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage for all eligible properties insured under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. You may file a claim for your Increased Cost of Compliance coverage (ICC) in three instances:

  1. If your community determines that your home or business is damaged by a flood to the point that repairs will cost 50 percent or more of the building's pre-damage market value (a lower threshold can be adopted by law or ordinance). This is called substantial damage.
  2. If your community has a repetitive loss provision in its floodplain management ordinance and determines that your home or business was damaged by a flood two times in the past 10 years, where the cost of repairing the flood damage, on the average, equaled or exceeded 25 percent of its market value at the time of each flood. This is called repetitive damage. Additionally, there must have been flood insurance claim payments for each of the two flood losses.
  3. If you participate in a FEMA-sponsored grant program and meet eligibility requirements.

Read more about ICC

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Policy Costs and Terms
How can I get flood insurance?
If you live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you are eligible to purchase flood insurance. Find out if your community is one of more than 22,000 communities that have implemented floodplain management measures and participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. See a list of participating NFIP communities and learn more about NFIP in your community.

To buy a flood insurance policy, call your insurance agent or company, or find an agent serving your area by filling out the Flood Risk Profile.
What will my flood insurance premium cost?
It is essential that you visit with your insurance agent to determine exact costs. However, if you'd like to receive a general idea of how much your premium will cost or find an agent serving your area, fill out the Flood Risk Profile.
How is my flood insurance premium calculated?
A number of factors are considered when determining your flood insurance premium. These factors include: the amount and type of coverage being purchased, location and flood zone, and the design and age of your structure. For homes in high-risk areas (e.g., Special Flood Hazard Areas or AE, VE Zones) built after the first Flood Insurance Rate Maps were drawn for that community, the elevation of the building in relation to the base flood elevation is also required. For more information, visit Flooding and Flood Risks.
Can I get a discount on my flood insurance premium?
It's possible that you qualify for a discount based on your community's participation and status in the Community Rating System program. For more information, visit CRS Ratings and You.
How can I pay for my flood insurance?
You can pay your insurance premium with a credit card (American Express, Diners Club, Discover Card, Master Card or Visa) or with cash, check or money order. Your premium may be paid through an escrow account established by your mortgage lender, at your lender's discretion.

If your lender requires you to buy flood insurance and escrows for other types of insurance or taxes, they are required to also escrow flood insurance premium payments. Your payment for coverage is due to your agent with your application. For details, ask your insurance agent or lender.
Will there be a waiting period for my policy to take effect?
Most likely. Typically, there's a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect. Here are the only exceptions:
  • If a building has been newly designated in the SFHA and flood insurance is being purchased within the 13-month period following a map revision.
  • If an additional amount of insurance is selected as an option on the renewal bill.
  • If a property is affected by flooding on burned Federal land that is a result of, or is exacerbated by, post-wildfire conditions when the policy is purchased within 60 days of the fire containment date.
What is the policy term for NFIP insurance?
One year.
Does a deductible apply to my coverage?
Building and contents policies have separate deductibles for each. This means that if your building and contents are both damaged due to a flood event, both deductibles are applied.

For more information about deductibles, contact your insurance agent or company, or fill out the Flood Risk Profile to find an agent serving your area.
How many structures (and their contents) may be insured on each policy?
Only one building and its contents can be insured on each policy.
Is there a 'grace period' after a policy has expired?
All policies expire at 12:01 a.m. on the last day of the effective term, but you remain covered for 30 days after the expiration of the policy. Claims for losses that occur in this grace period will be honored, provided that the full renewal premium is paid by the end of the 30-day period.
Will damage-preventing measures I've taken in my home be reimbursed by my Standard Flood Insurance Policy?
Some will be. When your insured home is in eminent danger of being flooded, you may receive up to a $1,000 reimbursement for your damage-preventing expenses. Things like renting storage space to protect your belongings, buying sandbags and lumber to make a barricade, and renting pumps are all things that qualify for reimbursement. No deductible is applied to this coverage.
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Hurricane Preparations
What can I do to protect my home and family from a hurricane?
Besides insuring your property, there are things you can do to minimize potential loss to your home and ensure your family's safety.
Remember to talk to your insurance agent if you have questions or would like additional information.
Is my city at risk?
Nearly every year since 1851, at least one hurricane has reached the United States. On average there are six hurricanes in a season. As all hurricanes weaken to tropical storms and move inland, the threat of torrential rains over large areas intensifies the risks of flooding for inland communities and states. Flooding from hurricanes can occur hundreds of miles from the coast placing communities, which would not normally be affected by the strongest hurricane winds, in great danger. Although any coastal area is at risk, certain cities are particularly vulnerable and may have incurred losses even higher than those incurred when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.
Has a disaster been declared for my area?
Check the FEMA disaster declarations page for the latest information.
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 do I file a flood insurance claim?
Read the simple steps about how to file a claim For in-depth answers regarding claims and the flood insurance claims process, please read the Flood Insurance Claims handbook.
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. Use the Flood Insurance Claims handbook as a reference.
What is Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) Coverage?

If a flood damages your home or business, you may be required by law or ordinance to meet certain building compliancy requirements in your community to reduce future flood damage. To help with these costs, the National Flood Insurance Program includes Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage for all eligible properties insured under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. You may file a claim for your Increased Cost of Compliance coverage (ICC) in three instances:

  1. If your community determines that your home or business is damaged by a flood to the point that repairs will cost 50 percent or more of the building's pre-damage market value (a lower threshold can be adopted by law or ordinance). This is called substantial damage.
  2. If your community has a repetitive loss provision in its floodplain management ordinance and determines that your home or business was damaged by a flood two times in the past 10 years, where the cost of repairing the flood damage, on the average, equaled or exceeded 25 percent of its market value at the time of each flood. This is called repetitive damage. Additionally, there must have been flood insurance claim payments for each of the two flood losses.
  3. If you participate in a FEMA-sponsored grant program and meet eligibility requirements.

Read more about ICC

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PRIMARY RESIDENCE DISCLAIMER


For flood insurance rating purposes, a primary residence is a building that will be lived in by the insured or the insured's spouse for at least 80 percent of the 365 days following the policy effective date. If the building will be lived in for less than 80 percent of the policy year, it is considered to be a non-primary residence.

How Can I get Covered?

  • Rate your risk
  • Estimate your premiums
  • Find an agent
 

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Last Updated: Thursday, 19-May-2016, 3:20 PM (EDT)

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