Just because you don’t live anywhere near a body of water doesn’t mean you don’t need flood insurance. No one’s home is flood-proof. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says that 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are paid to homeowners in low or moderate risk areas. That’s because it doesn’t take a body of water, or even a major storm, to cause a flood. Anything from a broken sewer line to a slow moving rainstorm can be a culprit.
Flood damage isn’t covered under your homeowner’s policy, so you must purchase a separate flood insurance policy. FEMA is the only provider of this type of coverage; however, they make it available to the public through insurance companies. That means you can purchase a policy from the same insurance agent that wrote your homeowner’s insurance.
There are two types of coverage:
- Standard Flood Insurance Policies – If your home is in a high-risk zone, you need this policy. The cost starts at about $500 a year but can run to almost $1,500, depending on a number of factors.
- Preferred Risk Policies – If your home is in a low or moderate risk zone, your may qualify for a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy. Premiums start at just under $119 a year.
To get specific information about premiums, you can log on to the FEMA web site at http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/.
Flood insurance policies provide two types of coverage: one for the structure and another for its contents. They can be purchased separately or together, and the FEMA website will show the premiums if you buy them individually or in combination. There is a 30-day waiting period before both of the coverages take effect.
The structural coverage is “replacement cost” coverage, which means the insurer will pay what it costs to replace or repair the structure with materials similar in type and quality to what was originally used when the structure was built, without deducting for depreciation. The maximum amount of structural coverage available for one-to-four family homes is $250,000.
Contents coverage is “actual cash value,” which means the insurer will pay what the item is worth after it has deducted depreciation. The maximum amount of contents coverage is $100,000. Renters can also purchase contents coverage.
In addition to purchasing flood insurance to protect the contents of your home, you can also protect your valuables by taking individual photos of each item, or by taking a video of your home and zooming in on everything of value. This is extremely important if you need to provide your insurer with a detailed list of your possessions.
Keep the photos or video, along with any receipts you may have for the merchandise, in a safe location outside of your home, like a bank safe deposit box. This will ensure that your documentation isn’t lost if a flood or other natural disaster destroys your home.