Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 2, 2021

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What Is flood insurance?

Someone who lives in a flood risk area knows all about the importance of this particular coverage. Having a flood policy protects your dwelling in the event of a flood or other natural disaster. While many assume flooding is covered by homeowners insurance, this is unfortunately not the case.

Flood insurance provides protection to homeowners, renters, and business owners against floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rain and other conditions that impact areas throughout the United States. It’s completely separate from any homeowners policy you might have. You might even see it advertised as being included for a certain amount of time if you’re looking to purchase a new home.

I don’t live in a high risk flood zone. Do I still need flood insurance?

While it might not be required, it is still largely recommended that you have flood insurance if you live in a building that is near a body of water. A good percentage of flood claims (something like 20%) come from non high-risk areas. As previously discussed, this insurance is relatively cheap to begin with, so it’s in your best interest to get it.

Does my homeowners insurance policy cover flooding?

Absolutely not! As discussed on the is flood insurance mandatory page, this is the most common misconception related to homeowners insurance. If you do not specifically have a flood insurance policy, you are out of luck if your home floods.

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Can I get flood insurance if I live in a high-risk flood area?

Yes, as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Mortgage lenders will not lend money on a home in a high risk flood area unless there is proof of flood insurance.  The term the lenders use is ‘flood cert’ which is short for flood certification. A provider will keep track of any flood map that is available wherever they offer coverage.

Does the government cover the bill since floods are typically referred to as ‘disasters’?

No, the area where your home is located must be formally declared a ‘disaster area.’ This occurs less than 50% of the time (You have better odds of winning at roulette). Note that the government merely loans you money to repair your home…they don’t just write you a check! You will have to pay interest on that loan, which may cost more than paying for flood insurance yourself.

Can I get flood insurance if I live in an apartment, condominium, or own commercial property?

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Can I get flood insurance at the last minute before a flood occurs or when a flood is occurring?

Yes and no. You can purchase flood insurance at any time, but there is a hitch. There is a 30-day waiting period. If you find out last minute that there is going to be a major storm in your area, and your basement risks the chance of flooding, you might be facing a loss. And you cannot get the insurance to cover a loss while it’s taking place, meaning if the flooding starts before 12:01am on the day your policy goes into effect, you’re out of luck. There are two exceptions to this rule:

  1. If your home has been re-zoned as a flood area within 13 months of purchasing your new flood insurance policy, you don’t have to wait the 30 days.
  2. If you get your policy as part of a mortgage loan on your home, you’ll be covered without waiting the 30 days as well.

If you meet this criteria, it might be beneficial for you to look into protecting yourself against any sort of flood loss.

Can I get flood coverage for my basement?

Yes, any floor below ground level can be insured. The policy will basically cover appliances and the structure. If you have a finished basement however, the walls and other items such as personal property will not be covered. You would need a separate policy for personal items. While it might be the best option if you have a fully finished basement, it will hike the average cost of your annual premium.

What is covered by flood insurance?

See the link above for a very detailed explanation of coverage. If it strikes you as being an excuse to get you to buy excess coverage but you live in an affected area, you might change your mind after looking at what’s covered.

Can I buy flood insurance if my home has been flooded before?

Yes, as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Be mindful, there has to be new water damage. A new policy will not cover old damage.

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Do I have to buy my flood insurance directly from the Federal Government?

Nope. You can purchase flood insurance the same way you purchased your home, life, car, and health insurance. The Fed has partnered with multiple insurance carriers to provide the service to us. Basically, the government pays the claims and the regular insurance company services the policy.

[Where can I buy flood insurance?]

Does flood insurance cover me against hurricanes, tidal overflows, or overflowing rivers?

Yes, this is exactly the purpose of the standard policy against flooding. It covers a range of reasons water may pool in any given area. It’s worth noting that at least two acres must be covered by water before it’s considered a flood.

Am I covered by flood insurance if my house floods as a result of a hole in the roof or broken windows?

No, it’s not. This type of claim does not constitute a flood by definition. This would be covered by your homeowners insurance, assuming you chose that particular coverage when purchasing your policy; it isn’t automatically included however. You’d have to look at what additional coverages are written within your policy, and you can always check online or with an agent for that information.

For the record, there is typically a separate deductible for wind driven rain in a homeowners policy.

In Texas for example, this is the most common type of homeowners insurance claim, so you may see a higher deductible for wind driven rain than anything else. Make sure to ask what the reimbursement limit is for this type of claim. While you’re at it, look into the types of deductibles that are offered as well – knowing your limits is half the battle.

Fact: Nearly 25% of flood insurance claims come from moderate-to-low risk areas. So while it might seem like it’s merely excess coverage that would net a provider more money, it’s in fact an option that might save you from a major financial hassle.