Flood Insurance

What is 'Flood Insurance'

Flood insurance is a type of property insurance that covers a dwelling for losses sustained by water damage, as it specifically relates to flooding. A separate coverage rider is needed to cover sewer backup, if the backup was not caused by the rising floodwaters.

BREAKING DOWN 'Flood Insurance'

A flood insurance policy is different than a basic hazard insurance or homeowners insurance policy, as it only covers losses that occur due to flooding. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies will cover most other losses as long as they are not related to flooding. These claimable events include losses sustained by fire, wind damage and falling trees, to name a few. Unlike a standard hazard policy, flood insurance requires a policyholder buy separate policies to cover a dwelling and its contents.

Flood insurance policies are available for all homes and commercial properties, not just the ones that are determined to be in the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) flood plain. However, properties that are located in a flood zone and are mortgaged by a federally backed lender will require adequate flood insurance coverage to receive financing. The NFIP regulates the pricing of flood insurance policies, and the cost will not differ between agents. Factors such as the zone designation, age of property and number of floors can impact premium pricing.

What is a flood zone

In conjunction with the NFIP, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) works to keep up to date maps of the United States flood zones, the areas that are most likely to experience flooding. FEMA has worked to update the zones as they change along with new and intensifying weather patterns. The zones are broken up into subsections for rating purposes. Properties that are located in zones B, C and X run a moderate to low risk for flooding. Low risk means less than a one percent chance of annual flooding.

Properties that are located in zones designated with an A are considered high risk. They are broken down further, with descriptions of potential flood water heights and estimated rates of occurrence over the course of a 30-year-mortgage.

Properties that receive a V designation are similar to the ones located in zone A. These are high-risk areas that are positioned along the coast.

Some homeowners may be surprised to find themselves located in Zone D, which indicates that a determination has yet to be made for the area. The reviews of flood zones remain ongoing. In 2008, the maps were updated for the first time in 23 years. During that time, it was discovered that many maps were outdated and did not take into consideration man-made changes to the geography such as spillways and levees.

Flood zone determinations can be found by visiting the FEMA website and checking a property address against the flood map service center.