No homeowner imagines being the victim of a natural disaster. A serious flood can be devastating. Floods can damage your home and personal property with surprising speed. However, not having flood insurance can make the entire situation worse. Without the right coverage, your losses may not be covered. If you’re wondering why every homeowner should have flood insurance. Here’s what you need to know.
What Flood Insurance Is and What It Covers
Flood insurance is a type of coverage that is separate from a traditional homeowners insurance policy. Anyone who lives in an area with flood risk can potentially purchase this supplemental policy.
It specifically focuses on flood-related damage caused by natural disasters, as well as other causes. Usually, flood insurance covers damage in specific categories.
First, flood insurance will commonly handle structural damage to your home. This includes the actual building, as well as some related systems, like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.
Second, flood insurance may cover your personal property. This includes damaged furniture that isn’t salvageable and similar household items, as well as clothing. However, this isn’t always part of the starting flood insurance policy, so you may need to request it be added if you want this protection.
Now, certain high-value items may not be fully covered by base flood insurance. This can include art, antiques, jewelry, firearms, or electronics above a certain value. In those cases, you may need flood insurance riders to add that coverage, just as you do with traditional homeowners policies.
Additionally, it’s important to note that every policy is different. Before you make assumptions about your coverage, review your flood insurance policy carefully. Ask questions about what is and isn’t protected, and request add-ons if needed to provide you with the level of protection you’re after.
Why Homeowners Need Flood Insurance
Typically, flood insurance fills a gap that many homeowners have in the primary policy. While homeowners insurance does cover some types of water damage under the hazard insurance segment of their policy, flooding events usually aren’t classified as the covered kind of hazard. As a result, damage caused by a flood may not be covered, leaving you without financial support to repair your home or replace your personal property.
Essentially, if you don’t have flood insurance, you’ll have to handle all related costs out of pocket. For most homeowners, this simply isn’t feasible. Flood repairs to a structure can be incredibly costly. Similarly, replacing all of your damaged personal belongings could take thousands and thousands of dollars.
It’s also important to note that homeowners with mortgages who live in higher-risk areas may be required by their lender to have flood insurance. This is especially true for anyone who uses government-backed financing sources, as there are federal laws requiring the coverage for properties they finance in high-risk zones. However, other lenders often follow suit, even if there isn’t a legal requirement.
The mandate for flood insurance is similar to them requiring homeowners insurance in general. It ensures the property is protected should a flood event occur and, since the lender is technically the owner until you pay off the mortgage, they have a vested interest in protecting its value.
How to Find Out if You’re in a High-Risk Flood Area
If you want to see if a property is in a high-risk flood area, the simplest way is to use the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center. Simply enter your address into the search bar, and the site will display a map that identifies your home’s risk level.
You may be able to turn to other state and local resources as well. State emergency management agencies may have flood maps, for example, so they can be worth checking if you find the FEMA results lacking.
Should Low-Risk Property Owners Skip Flood Insurance?
No, homeowners in low-risk areas shouldn’t skip flood insurance. Even if you live in a low-risk area, going without flood insurance means you aren’t protected should the unexpected occur.
Low-risk doesn’t mean risk-free. Many natural events are unprecedented. But even if they weren’t deemed likely, your base homeowners policy won’t cover the related damage if it is excluded in your policy.
Additionally, risk levels can change over time. An area that wasn’t previously flood-prone can suddenly become so for a variety of reasons. Climate change, land development, and similar shifts can alter water flow through regions, turning areas that previously didn’t experience flooding into moderate or high-risk areas.
Where to Get Flood Insurance
If you need flood insurance, you can call your homeowners insurance company to see if they offer it. Some insurers have flood insurance riders, while others may require a separate policy for that specific kind of coverage.
However, not all insurance companies offer flood insurance. If that’s the case, you may not be able to secure flood insurance through your homeowners policy provider. Instead, you’ll turn to the National Flood Insurance Program, a system run by FEMA, that can help you find a provider that covers homeowners in your area.
Do you think every homeowner should have flood insurance? Have you decided to risk it and go without flood insurance? Has flood insurance ever saved you from financial hardship? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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