How Homeowners Can Navigate Choppy Waters With Ease!

The purpose of flood insurance is to protect homeowners and renters against flood losses, losses not covered by a typical homeowner’s policy. Whether you own a condo or a home, are a builder or a renter, here’s information to help you learn who’s eligible for this insurance, where to get it, and how the program works.

Flood insurance is available only in communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Homeowners, builders, and communities want to preserve and protect their property. What measures exist to help them?

Why have flood insurance?

You may think you don’t live close enough to the water to be at risk, but dams and levees break, drainage systems can overload and back up, and hurricanes can be thrown off course.

Protecting your home and belongings with flood insurance is much less expensive than cleaning up after the fact. Nor can you rely on the help of the Presidential Disaster Declaration. Even if such a declaration is made for your area, it may be a long time before the money arrives.

The National Flood Insurance Program

Over time, the US government realized that measures put in place to discourage reckless land development or lessen flood losses simply didn’t work. Therefore, in 1968, Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program to protect homeowners against the possibility of loss.

How does it work?

A community must agree to adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance that is designed to reduce the risks of future flooding in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). When a community follows or agrees to follow these laws, the federal government will make flood insurance available to all homeowners in that community.

Every property owner must follow all FEMA and NFIP requirements, whether or not they purchase flood insurance. One of the requirements is properly installed flood vents.

How is community defined?

A community is any state, area, or political subdivision; any Indian tribe, chartered tribal organization, or Alaska Native people; or authorized native organization with the authority to adopt and enforce the floodplain management ordinance for the area under its jurisdiction.

Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary, although some states require participation as part of their floodplain management program. Each community in an identified flood-prone area must assess its flood hazard and determine if flood insurance and floodplain management would benefit its residents and its economy.

How are flood hazard areas determined?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) produces maps that identify various flood hazard areas, such as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), a high-risk area that has a 1% probability of occurring in any year. The government believes that this high-risk standard is a reasonable compromise between the need for floodplain development and the need for building restrictions intended to minimize loss of life and property.

Development may take place in the SFHA as long as it complies with local floodplain management ordinances that meet minimum federal requirements. Flood insurance is required for insurable structures within high-risk areas.

What kind of requirements are there?

When a community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, every property owner in that community must follow all FEMA code requirements as set forth in their floodplain management ordinance. That’s true whether or not the property owner purchases flood insurance. These code requirements include, but are not limited to, foundation openings (also called “flood vents”) and first flood elevation height requirements.

What types of structures can be insured?

If you are in a community that participates in the NFIP, almost all types of buildings with walls and roofs that are mostly above ground and not entirely above water can be insured. This includes mobile homes and travel trailers without wheels that are anchored to a permanent foundation. Separate coverage is available for the contents of these buildings.

What is not insurable under the NFIP?

Buildings entirely above water or primarily below ground, gas and liquid storage tanks, animals, birds, fish, aircraft, docks, piers, bulkheads, growing crops, bushes, land, livestock, roads, machinery, motor vehicles, outdoor equipment. Most contents and finishing materials located in a basement or in rooms below the lowest raised floor of an elevated building are not covered.

How to find out if you can buy the insurance

Homeowners and renters can see if their community participates in the NFIP by contacting a community official or insurance agent or by visiting http://www.fema.gov/fema/csb.

How to get an insurance policy

If your local insurance agent doesn’t sell flood insurance, call the NFIP at 1-888-379-9531 or visit http://www.floodsmart.gov.

How much flood insurance coverage is available?

The NFIP Flood Insurance Manual provides coverage limits under the Residential Condominium Construction Association Policy. Under its regular program, property owners can purchase up to $250,000 for a single-family home or other residential building and up to $500,000 for a non-residential building. Coverage is available up to $100,000 for residential building contents and up to $500,000 for non-residential contents.

When to buy flood insurance?

There is usually a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to go into effect. Remember that hurricane season is flood season, so get your insurance well in advance.

tips to remember

1 – Everyone lives in a flood zone.

2 – Most homeowners policies do not cover flood damage.

3 – No matter what your flood risk is, you can buy flood insurance if your community participates in the NFIP.

4 – Don’t wait for federal disaster assistance to help you.

5 – Keep your home in compliance with federal standards.

6 – There is usually a 30-day waiting period before your policy goes into effect.

7 – Purchase a separate policy to protect your contents.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for FEMA’s comprehensive guidelines. For more information, visit FEMA.gov.

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