Talk to your licensed insurance agent about what is and isn’t covered by your policy. Know what is and is not covered. Contents are not covered by a building/structure flood policy. To cover your belongings or contents within a building, you'll need to add contents coverage to your existing building/structure policy.
- The cause of the flooding matters. Damage caused by a sewer backup is only covered by flood insurance if it's a direct result of flooding; the damage is not covered if the backup is caused by some other problem.
- Contents and building coverage are purchased separately (for the Preferred Risk Policy, there's an option for combination coverage for both contents and building coverage), but there are always separate deductibles. Unless you have contents coverage, your flood-damaged contents are not covered.
It may be a good idea to purchase coverage for the building (the structure) and its contents. Each has a deductible. Building coverage only covers the structure, so you should consider getting coverage for the items inside the property too (contents coverage).
Examples of Building Coverage
- The electrical and plumbing systems
- Furnaces, water heaters, heat pumps and sump pumps
- Refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
- Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
- Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases and cabinets. The damage must be directly caused by flood water. Cabinets that were not damaged by flood water are not covered, even if they match cabinets that were damaged by flood water.
- Window blinds
- Foundation walls, anchorage systems and staircases attached to the building. There is an exclusion for “loss caused directly by earth movement even if the earth movement is caused by flood.”
- A detached garage used for limited storage or parking. Up to 10 percent of the building coverage limit can be used, but will reduce the total amount of building coverage available.
- Cisterns and the water in them
- Fuel tanks and the fuel in them, solar energy equipment and well water tanks and pumps
Examples of Contents Coverage
- Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture and electronic equipment
- Portable and window air conditioners (easily moved or relocated)
- Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers
- Carpets not included in building coverage (carpet installed over wood floors, etc.)
- Laundry washers and dryers
- Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)
- Food freezers and the food in them (but not refrigerators)
Not Covered for Building or Personal Property
- Damage caused by moisture, mildew or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner or which are not attributable to the flood
- Damage caused by earth movement, even if the earth movement is caused by flood
- Additional living expenses, such as temporary housing, while the building is being repaired or is unable to be occupied
- Loss of use or access to the insured property
- Financial losses caused by business interruption
- Property and belongings outside of an insured building such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs and swimming pools
- Currency, precious metals and valuable papers such as stock certificates
- Most self-propelled vehicles such as cars, including their parts (see Section IV.5 in your policy)
This publication warns homeowners that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover floods. It also explains that federal disaster assistance cannot be relied on for flood events because most floods do not result in a Presidential Disaster Declaration. Only flood insurance reimburses homeowners and renters for flood damage to their property.
This document was prepared by the NFIP to help you understand your flood insurance policy. It provides general information about deductibles, what is and is not covered by flood insurance and how items are valued at the time of loss.
What should I know about deductibles?
As with other insurance plans, a higher deductible will lower the premium you pay but will also reduce your claim payment, meaning you will need to cover the difference out of your own pocket. Sometimes a mortgage lender will set a maximum amount for your deductible.
Is there a 30-day waiting period?
Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase until your policy goes into effect. Here are the exceptions:
- If a building is newly designated in the high-risk Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and you purchase flood insurance within the 13-month period following a map revision, there is a 1-day waiting period.
- If you purchase flood insurance in connection with making, increasing, extending or renewing your mortgage loan, there is no waiting period.
- If you select additional insurance as an option on your insurance policy renewal bill, there is no waiting period.
- If a property is affected by flooding on burned federal land and the policy is purchased within 60 days of the fire-containment date, there may be no waiting period. Waiving of the waiting period is determined at the time of claim.
What is an elevation certificate and why might I need one?
Your insurance agent may ask you for an Elevation Certificate (EC). This certificate verifies your building’s elevation compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach in a major flood in a high-risk flood area.
It’s also beneficial to ask if your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), because this could mean local officials already have a copy of your EC on file. Policyholders with insured properties in communities that participate in CRS may be eligible for policy discounts.
A property owner in a high-risk flood area always has the right to purchase an EC, which may reduce your flood insurance premium. Please contact a licensed insurance agent for further information.