The Importance of Flood Insurance – Protecting Your Home and Finances

Floods are one of the country’s most common and costly natural disasters. Having insurance can protect you and your financial well-being.

In high-risk zones, homeowners are required by law to have flood insurance if they have a federally backed-mortgage. And even those in moderate to low-risk areas may want to consider it.

Protects Your Home

Many people think regular homeowners or renters insurance covers damage from flooding, but they’re mistaken. Only a flood policy provides protection.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers building and contents coverage for homes, apartments and businesses. It’s available to residents in areas that have adopted adequate floodplain management regulations.

If you live near a river, lake or ocean or in a flood zone, your lender likely requires you to have a flood policy to get a mortgage. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, flooding can occur caused by storms, melting snow and backed-up drainage systems.

A typical Georgia flood insurance may cover your structure and up to $100,000 worth of belongings. It can also pay for moving expenses and rental income while your home is uninhabitable. In addition, the NFIP may offer up to $30,000 in grants to help you raise, move or rebuild your home.

Whether you get an NFIP building or contents policy, your premium will be based on how much your property is worth and how close your home is to a body of water. It also depends on your home’s elevation, age and other factors influencing its risk. There’s typically a 30-day waiting period before your NFIP policy goes into effect, so make sure you act early and take a home inventory to help with the claims process.

Protects Your Belongings

Many assume standard homeowners or rental insurance covers flood damage, but it typically doesn’t. Instead, you’ll need a separate flood policy offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Generally, NFIP offers building coverage and contents coverage, which can be augmented with “excess” policies available from private insurers to provide additional protection over and above what’s provided in an NFIP plan.

Whether you live in a moderate- to high-risk area or not, it’s important to consider flood insurance. Even areas that haven’t experienced serious flooding in the past may be at risk due to climate change. Floods can happen anywhere and are the leading cause of natural disaster-related home and property loss in the U.S.

To be sure you’re getting the most out of your flood insurance, keep receipts for electronics, wall-to-wall carpeting and other expensive items to show to the adjuster if you need to file a claim. Also, be aware that your building or contents coverage is adjusted on an Actual Cash Value (ACV) basis. ACV considers the item’s physical depreciation, such as wear and tear or aging.

To help you determine if you’re at risk for a flood, you can try out the online NFIP flood mapper or speak with your insurance professional. They can provide detailed information about the history of flooding in your area and recommend what type of flood protection might be right for you.

Protects Your Finances

Even if you don’t live in an area at high risk for flooding, it is important to consider flood insurance. The fact is that flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States, with one inch of water causing $25,000 in damage. Most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies don’t cover flood damages, which is why flood insurance exists. It gives people the funds to repair their homes and recover without having to draw down savings or debt or rely on often insufficient and delayed government assistance.

Flood insurance is available for owners of homes, condominiums and rentals, commercial structures, agricultural buildings and inland marine coverage for contents. If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can get a policy through your insurance agent. The NFIP policies are typically written on an “actual cash value” basis. You will receive only the amount it would cost to replace your belongings at their current market value.

To purchase a flood insurance policy, you must talk with an independent insurance agent who knows the NFIP and its policies. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team, which has over 50 years of industry experience and includes licensed agents, is here to help you understand your options and answer your questions.

Peace of Mind

Floods can be devastating. They can ruin your home and wipe out your financial savings. That’s why you need to protect yourself with flood insurance. However, many homeowners need clarification about the policy, which can make it difficult to decide whether or not to buy it.

Most homeowners’ policies exclude flood damage, so you need separate flood coverage if you live in an area at risk for flooding. Unlike standard homeowner’s insurance, a flood policy will pay to repair or replace your personal belongings and the structure of your home. It can cover up to 80% of your property’s value.

Fortunately, flood insurance is often more affordable than you might think. Many factors influence the price of a flood insurance policy, including how close your home is to a body of water, its elevation, and its history of flooding. And like other types of insurance, you can typically choose your deductible.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy that provides building and contents coverage in mapped flood zones for just over $260 a year. However, even properties outside of NFIP-designated flood hazard areas may be at risk for flooding in the future due to climate change. To help address these concerns, many private insurers offer excess flood policies that can supplement NFIP policies and provide additional coverage beyond the NFIP’s maximums.

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