The best time to think about flood insurance is before you actually need it. Standard homeowners and renters insurance does not cover flood damage. Find out why you need flood insurance and learn where to get it.
Where do I get flood insurance?
The federal government provides flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). While they are underwritten by the government, NFIP policies are generally sold through private insurance agents. In some areas, primary flood insurance may be available through private insurers.
It may be a good idea to purchase coverage for the building (the structure) and its contents. 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)
There is a 30-day waiting period before the coverage takes effect.
Do I need to purchase flood insurance?
You will definitely need flood insurance if you live in a designated flood zone. But flooding can also occur in inland areas and away from major rivers. In fact, more than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk flood zones. Consider buying a flood insurance policy if your house could be flooded by melting snow, an overflowing creek or pond, or water running down a steep hill.
Your insurance agent or mortgage company should be able to advise if the area where you live qualifies for coverage. They can also advise if it is recommended to purchase flood insurance through assessing factors such as the date the structure was built and the likelihood of flooding in the area.
Information provided by Ohio Insurance Institute