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Flood Insurance

Flood InsuranceMillions of homeowners do not have flood insurance and are unaware of their risk of being flooded. Floods can occur anywhere it rains. All it takes is an inch of water to cause major damage to homes and personal property.

To source FREE policy estimates for your flood insurance needs use your local ZIP and the quote tool now!

A flood, in terms of “flood insurance,” is an overwhelming amount of water that rises up from the ground, not a deluge of water pouring down through the ceiling. Understanding your risk for experiencing a flood based on your location and other factors is essential to getting appropriate coverage.

Defining Your Flood Risk

Your home or business is at risk of being flooded even it is not located near water if the flood risk in your area is rated as being low to moderate.

Flood risk is based on climate history, topography, river flow and tidal surge information and flood control measures taken by your community.

Communities fall into three categories of risk: high, moderate-to-low and undetermined. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) creates flood hazard maps showing areas with their level of flood risk. These maps are the biggest consideration in determining the rates you will pay for flood insurance. Other considerations are the amount and type of flood coverage and the age, design and elevation of the building.

Flood Insurance Coverage

Flood insurance is a specific type of insurance to cover property loss caused by flooding, no matter the cause of the flooding. A property owner or renter may have earthquake insurance, but it may not cover flood damage caused by flooding precipitated by the earthquake.

How to Get Flood Insurance

Federally-backed mortgage lenders require you to purchase flood insurance if you own a home or business in a high-risk flood zone.  You can see photos of damage to many of these properties here. Flood insurance is not required if you are a renter or do not live in such areas. Nevertheless, you should consider purchasing flood insurance because a quarter of all flood claims come from moderate-to-low flood risk areas.

Your Flood Insurance CoverageAlthough the flood insurance program is underwritten by the federal government, you obtain flood insurance by purchasing a policy through an insurance agent at one of 90 insurance companies, including Allstate, State Farm and GEICO. Your community must join the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP ) and implement the basic flood control measures in accordance with federal regulations. An administrative component of FEMA manages the NFIP.

Regardless of your flood risk, you are eligible to purchase flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP. Because most homeowner’s, renter’s and business insurance policies do not cover flood damage, a flood insurance policy can be vital to protecting your most valuable assets.

The Types of Flood Insurance Policies

There are two types of flood insurance policies: Preferred Risk Policy and Standard-Rate Policy. Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) premiums are the lowest available through the NFIP. These policies are available only for eligible homeowners and renters living in moderate to low flood risk areas. If you are not eligible for a PRP policy, a standard-rated policy is still available.

Standard-Rated Policies (SRP) are the only flood insurance option for property owners and renters located in a high-risk flood zone.

PRPs and SRPs cover losses up to $250,000 for the home and up to $100,000 for personal property. For businesses, these policies will pay up to $500,000 for the building and up to $500,000 for the contents. For renters, PRPs and SRPs will pay up to $100,000 for personal property.

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Flood Insurance Rates

My Flood Insurance CoverageThere is no need to comparison-shop for flood insurance rates within your particular community because the rate is already set by the federal government according to your community’s flood risk. However, specific policies will differ in coverage.

Residents of homes without basements living in moderate-to-low flood risk zones can expect to pay as much as $365 per year for covered property losses up to $250,000 and covered content losses up to $100,000. As of January 1, 2011 homeowners with basements living in areas with the same flood risk can expect to pay as much as $405 per year.

For the same amount of coverage, homeowners living in high-risk flood zones but not coastal areas can expect to pay as much as $2,930 per year; coastal area residents can expect to pay as much as $6,410 per year. As with any type of insurance, reducing the amount of coverage and increasing the deductible will reduce your premiums.

Changes in State Flood Insurance Rates

Rates for a particular community can change over time due to improved or outdated flood control mechanisms, building development and naturally occurring changes to the land. Politics can play a role too.

Flood Insurance PolicyFor example, Pierce County, Washington, recently received a new federal flood rating. This new rating will increase the discount on flood insurance from the current 35% to 40% for certain residents living in a mapped floodplain. FEMA changed Pierce County’s flood rating because the county implemented flood hazard programs beyond the minimum flood control regulations set by FEMA.

In contrast, over 2 million Florida property owners and renters can expect to pay more for flood insurance by as much as 20% or more over the next several years. This rate increase is part of Congress’s solution to overhaul the flood insurance program, which is mired in more than $18 billion in debt. Moreover, the most flood-risky communities in Florida may not be insurable at all. You can read about Florida specific flood coverage in this Miami based article.

Florida’s legislature recently passed a bill accelerating the building permit process to jumpstart new construction. The bill, which has not yet been signed into law, states that Florida communities are not required to get any agency approval before issuing building permits.

FEMA says it cannot provide flood insurance to communities that do not conform to minimum federal flood control regulations. Those include adhering to federal flood-plain management rules that exclude coverage of developments in some high-risk flood zones and require buildings to be constructed at higher elevations in high-risk flood zones. Consequently, this bill has the unintended effect of disqualifying many Florida communities from the NFIP.

Florida is especially dependent on the NFIP. Florida is a low-lying peninsula, much of which is at sea level or below. There is no real private market for flood insurance. Without federal flood insurance, many Floridians will not be able get a federally-backed mortgage. You can learn more about these types of mortgages and the Federal Housing Authority here.

Currently, there are 459 Florida communities participating in the NFIP with just over $471 billion in flood coverage.

No Coverage in a Newly Mapped High-Risk Flood Zone

Try not to be upset if a new flood map ropes your community into a high-risk zone. An outdated map might have hidden your true flood risk. Moreover, FEMA acknowledges the financial hardship that a high-risk zone designation could place on property owners and renters areas recently assigned the high-risk label. FEMA extended the eligible time period for low-cost PRPs to address this situation.

State Flood Insurance Policy

If property owners, home owners or renters reside in a high-risk flood zone which was assigned that designation after September 30th of 2008, but prior to January 1st of 2011,then they are eligible for a PRP. This PRP will provide coverage from the first of January 2012 until the last day of that calendar year.

Property owners and renters who will be mapped into a high-risk flood zone any day after December 31, 2010, are eligible for a PRP for two policy years following the time period of the zone change.

A homeowner’s claim and loss history is also taken into account for eligibility. If the home owner has made two claims or has received an excess of $1,000 in disaster relief he or she is ineligible. This is also true if the person has filed claims, in any amount, for three of more losses.

When the designated time frame ends PRPs must be converted to SRPs.

Newly Mapped High-Risk Flood Zone Coverage

If you do have flood insurance and live in a recently mapped high risk zone then PRP-insured property owners and renters will see a very small increase when they renew their policies, but they will have two more years of lower premiums. SRP-insured property owners and renters may be eligible to convert their policies to a PRP and pay reduced premiums for two policy years.

How to Get Flood Insurance Rate Quotes

My Flood Insurance PolicyAlthough you can receive free flood insurance rate quotes online, and it’s a great first step, you should definitely speak to an insurance agent. Discuss your homeowner’s coverage and what you require above and beyond that. You should also discuss:

  • Your flood risk
  • Your community’s eligibility for federal flood insurance
  • Your eligibility to obtain a low-cost PRP
  • How much coverage you will need
  • What flood insurance will and will not cover
  • How you can reduce your premium

Flood insurance is very specific to where you live and the zone ratings this area has been assigned. Don’t assume that your homeowner’s policy will cover floods as this is not the case.

Start with FREE rate quotes here by entering your ZIP now, and talk to an agent today!

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