Anyone who has experienced a flood in his or her home understands how devastating the losses may be. In serious incidents, homes may face tens of thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs. These pricey risks are why many Americans protect themselves against flood damage. Others believe their homeowners insurance will cover the damages facing their homes after a flood; what they don’t always realize, however, is that most homeowners insurance companies do not cover flood damages. Water damage, which is often covered, and flood damage are quite opposite in the eyes of insurers.

Generally, most homeowners insurance policies in the U.S. do not offer flood insurance. Instead, insurers recommend that their customers purchase flood insurance as a separate policy, especially if the home is in a flood-prone area. If you currently have flood insurance or are looking into purchasing it, we recommend doing some research to make sure your expenses will go a long way. Whether you need to file a claim or want to see where you’ll receive coverage, most of your questions should be answered.

 

What is covered by flood insurance?

If you’ve purchased flood insurance, whether you live in a high risk zone or not, you’ll receive coverage on the following features:

  1. The structure of your home

    1. Foundation

    2. Electrical

    3. Plumbing

    4. Built-in appliances, like refrigerators and stoves

    5. Central air and heating

    6. Floors, including installed rugs

  2. Personal belongings

    1. Furtniture

    2. Clothing

    3. Washers and dryers

    4. Electronics

    5. Portable appliances, like microwaves and window AC units

    6. Carpets that are not installed into the structure

 

What isn’t covered?

While a majority of your home will receive coverage if you have flood insurance, there are certain exclusions. In particular, items that are especially valuable, such as fine jewelry, may not be covered by your flood insurance policy. Generally, automobiles are usually not covered by homeowners insurance; however, if you have comprehensive car insurance, you should be covered on this front.

One portion of the house that may not receive strong coverage is anywhere below the ground level floor of your home. Basements and crawl spaces may only get limited coverage following a flood. If the basement of a flood-insured home is damaged, only a limited amount of personal property will be covered, including laundry appliances and portable air conditioner units; any clothing, electronics, and furniture in a below-ground floor may not be protected. As for the structure of a below-ground area of your home, only the most basic features will receive coverage, such as the foundation, stairs, insulations, and central air conditioners. If you’ve converted your basement into a “man cave” or guest bedroom, many features will not be replaced or repaired.

 

Who needs flood insurance?

For the most part, the majority of people who are recommended to purchase flood insurance include those who live in high risk flood zones. To figure out what risk level your home is, utilize the Map Portal supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). By typing in your zip code or address and zooming in, you’ll be able to see if you are in a zone A or V area, in which case it is highly recommended that you receive flood coverage.

However, those in probable flood locations aren’t the only ones at risk. In wake of the current devastation facing southeast Texas, it is imperative that Americans evaluate the benefits of flood insurance, whether they believe they need it or not. Hurricane Harvey is considered a 500-year flood; this means the hurricane hit areas that were considered so low risk that there was a mere 1 in 500 (or 0.2%) chance that a flood would occur in these areas this year. Unfortunately, many Houston residents do not have flood insurance; with these statistics, this comes as no surprise.


According to the NFIP, only one inch of flooding can cost more than $20,000 in damage fees. Without flood insurance, this cost can be quite overwhelming. The repair costs are why over 43,000 properties were abandoned following Hurricane Katrina; people couldn’t pay this heavy price. Since your homeowners insurance policy most likely does not cover floods, it’s in your hands to keep your assets safe if disaster strikes.