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Heartland Disaster Help is not connected in any way to any insurance company

Our only purpose is to help residents prepare for floods and recover from flooding. Flood insurance is very important for flood recovery.

Floods are among the most devastating natural disasters, capable of causing widespread destruction to homes, businesses, and communities. While property insurance typically covers many types of property damage, it often excludes coverage for flood-related losses. This is where flood insurance comes into play, offering essential financial protection against the financial toll of flood damage.

On this page you will find:

What is a flood?

In simple terms, a flood is an excess of water on land that is normally dry, often resulting from heavy rainfall, storm surges, melting snow, or the rapid accumulation of water from sources like rivers, lakes, or oceans. Flood insurance typically1 pays for damage caused by the following events:

  • Overflow from rising rivers, streams, or other bodies of water
  • Torrential rain that causes water to accumulate and flood more than one home
  • Sewer water pushed back into your home through your pipes as a result of flooding
  • A water main break
  • A mudslide, etc.

Flood insurance typically does not help you with water damage from:

  • A sewer system leak that is not caused by flooding
  • A burst water pipe in your home
  • Rain that enters through a wind-damaged window, door, wall, or roof

Typically, these types of damage are covered by your homeowners or renters’ insurance. Be sure to consult your insurance provider for details.

1 Be sure to check your flood insurance policy’s language as coverage and definitions vary from policy to policy.

What is Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance is a type of insurance coverage specifically designed to provide financial protection against damage caused by floods. Under this agreement, you agree to pay the insurance company a certain amount of money to buy the insurance for a year. This yearly amount is called the premium.

In return, the insurance company agrees to help you pay for flood damage to your home and its contents during that year. The amount of assistance the company would provide for flood damage is typically much higher than the premium. You can renew flood insurance every year. A few key points to understand about flood insurance include:

Coverage: Flood insurance typically covers both the structure of a building (such as a house) and its contents. This includes damage to the building itself, as well as damage to personal belongings and property within the building.

Flood Zones: Properties are often categorized into flood zones based on their risk of flooding. With private flood insurance, premiums for flood insurance are often higher for properties located in high-risk flood zones, as they are more susceptible to flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on the other hand, ensures premiums are the same for all policyholders.

Waiting Period: Flood insurance policies usually have a waiting period before coverage takes effect. This waiting period helps prevent people from purchasing coverage right before an imminent flood event. The waiting period is typically 30 days, but it can vary.

Limits: There are limits to how much flood insurance coverage you can obtain for the structure and contents of your property. If you need insurance coverage beyond these limits, you might need to consider additional insurance policies.

Exclusions: Like any insurance policy, flood insurance policies have their limitations. Certain types of property improvements in basements, for example, might not be covered.

It is important to know that most flood insurance policies will not pay for hotels or temporary housing that you may need to stay in while your home is cleaned or repaired. This is true for all insurance policies sold under the National Flood Insurance Program. Private flood insurance policies can provide additional coverage, including cost of living expenses if you are displaced from your home due to a flood. Be sure to consult your insurance broker or provider for details.

How do insurance deductibles and coverage work?

The insurance deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket for flood repairs before flood insurance coverage kicks in. Choosing a higher deductible reduces your annual premiums, but this means you must cover more of the initial damage costs if flooding occurs. A lower deductible raises your yearly fees but lowers the upfront expenses you would pay in the event of a claim. Talk to your insurance broker to find the right balance based on your budget, flood risk, and risk tolerance.

Coverage is the highest amount of money the insurance company will give you for flood damage. This can be money to repair damage or to replace damaged property. The amount of coverage in your flood insurance plan affects how much you will have to pay each year to buy the insurance.

Here is an example about how deductibles and coverage work: You decide to buy a flood insurance policy for $104 per year. With this amount, the insurance company agrees to pay you as much as $20,000 to repair or replace your flood-damaged items. So your flood insurance coverage is $20,000. This policy has a $1,000 deductible. This means that you need to spend $1,000 of your money first, before your insurance policy will cover the remaining repairs up to $20,000.

Securing flood insurance may feel like an unnecessary expense, especially if your property has not flooded recently or is not located directly on the waterfront. However, being underinsured against flood risks could prove financially devastating should disaster strike. Floods can occur well away from rivers and coasts and impact homes regardless of proximity. Flood patterns are shifting due to climate change, bringing rising risks to many areas. Recovering from just a few inches of floodwater can cost tens of thousands without insurance coverage. While premiums are an investment, having a flood insurance policy provides peace of mind that your finances will be protected even in unlikely situations.

What is the National Flood Insurance Program?

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a program established by the United States government in 1968 to provide flood insurance coverage to property owners in participating communities. It was created to address the lack of affordable and widely available flood insurance in the private market and to help mitigate the financial impact of flood-related disasters. The goals of the NFIP are to:

  • Make flood insurance available at affordable prices across the country, and
  • Encourage communities to take steps to reduce the risk of flooding.

NFIP flood insurance policies can be purchased in any community that participates in the program. To participate, a community needs to have taken certain steps to reduce flood risk. Flood insurance is available in most communities, with more than 22,000 cities and counties participating. Find out if your community participates here.

Flood insurance is available and important, no matter where you live. That’s true even in areas identified as having moderate or low risk for flooding.

Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help make flood insurance available everywhere in the country. You can buy this flood insurance from an insurance company.

More than 20 percent of flood insurance claims in the United States are filed by people living outside of high-risk flood zones. That shows that the risk of flooding is everywhere.

Here’s the good news. You can buy lower-cost flood insurance if you live in an area that is considered to be at moderate or low risk for flooding.

How do I get an NFIP flood insurance policy?

The government does not sell NFIP flood insurance policies directly. Instead, you must buy the flood insurance policy from a private insurance company. That private insurance company will process your claims, assess your flood damage, and send you money for repairs or replacements.

The federal government, however, sets the prices for the flood insurance policies. That means those prices are the same no matter which insurance company you buy the flood insurance policy from..

Most insurance companies sell flood insurance policies under what is called the Write Your Own Program. The federal government helps the insurance companies pay for their cost of writing these policies and processing claims. It also protects the companies from losing money on flood insurance. You can find more information on NFIPs standard flood insurance policy forms here.

What is private flood insurance?

Some insurance companies have started selling flood insurance policies on their own. These are that are not connected in any way with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Private flood insurance is not common. But these policies may be an option for you if your community does not take part in the NFIP. You also can consider a private plan as another option, or in addition to existing flood insurance, even if an NFIP plan is available.

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