Many homeowners believe that unless they live near a river or in an oceanfront community, they don’t need to consider buying flood insurance. But as countless property owners have learned the hard way over the years, if you live in a floodplain, eventually the waters are likely to rise. You may want to hedge your bets and consider flood insurance long before a hurricane or major storm is on the way.
Licensed property and casualty insurance companies sell and service flood insurance, but the policy and coverage come from the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). No matter how or where you buy flood insurance, you’ll get the same federal policy. Flood insurance is available in communities that adopt and enforce what the federal government considers sound floodplain-management practices. To find out whether your community participates in the flood insurance program, contact your local government or call the flood insurance program at 800-427-4661.
Homeowners insurance may cover certain types of water damage, wind-driven rain, or a broken water pipe that floods the cellar and first floor, for example. But damage caused by a river that flows over its banks or storm waves that surge over the coastline usually won’t be covered by homeowners or property-owners insurance. That’s where flood insurance, bought in addition to homeowners insurance or property-owners insurance, kicks in.
Can I Insure It?
The following can be insured:
- Walled buildings that are above ground and not over water, including mobile homes anchored to permanent foundations. The structures must be in a participating NFIP community.
- Contents of insurable buildings (including some basements) can be insured separately.
The following cannot be insured:
- Travel trailers, converted buses, and vans.
- Buildings over water or principally below ground.
- Gas and liquid storage tanks, wharves, piers, bulkheads, roads, or machinery and equipment left out in the open.
- Buildings determined by state and local authorities to be in violation of floodplain-management regulations.
Flood insurance coverage is available for residential and nonresidential buildings, as well as for contents. Homeowners who carry flood insurance are covered for any flood-related damage to the ground level or upper floors of their homes. Damage to personal belongings is covered only if the policyholder has bought contents coverage. Damage to basements is limited to structural elements and basic items used to service the building, such as furnaces, water heaters, and utility connections.
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