According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), floods are the most commonly occurring natural disaster in the U.S. However, most standard homeowners policies do not offer coverage for damages from flooding. When considering whether or not you need flood insurance, there are a few questions you will want to ask. Below, we outline those questions and highlight how this policy can protect your home.
How do floods happen outside of floodplains?
One of the common mistakes homeowners make is thinking that because they are not located within a federally designated floodplain, they do not need flood insurance. Floodplains are flat areas surrounding large bodies of water that can be prone to flooding. They are most commonly found close to lakes and rivers.
Even if your home is miles from the nearest lake or river, there could be small streams nearby that feed from these larger bodies of water. These may overflow and cause serious damage to your power, septic system, and even your home’s foundation. One inch of standing water in a house can cause about $25,000 in damages and repairs – think about what even a few more inches could do.
Floods can also happen in times of heavy rain or even melting snowfall. If you live in a flat area, your region can be prone to flooding in extreme cases of rain and snowmelt. While this may not happen in your lifetime, there is always a chance the unexpected may occur.
What damage can floods cause?
In many cases, floods cause widespread water damage. This can be a few inches of water harming a structure’s foundation, or a few feet of water filling a basement or main floor. If the water damage spreads past the foundation, this compromises walls, roofing, and furniture.
Although more rare, extreme flooding can cause total destruction of buildings, roads, and infrastructure as running water moves through the area. Landslides may also occur due to extreme flooding and carry debris miles away from where it was destroyed.
Hurricane season can also create flooding, even if you do not live directly on the coast. High-speed winds and heavy rain can cause catastrophic flash-flooding miles from the ocean, with rivers, lakes, and streams receiving an influx of volume in hours or minutes.
How does flood insurance help?
Flood insurance policies provide coverage that can help replace the cost of your home and belongings. The premium is based on many factors, including your overall risk, property terrain, and how much coverage you elect to purchase. For homeowners who reside in low to moderate-risk areas for flooding, you may be eligible to obtain a lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy. This provides coverage for your home structure and possessions, but at a lower monthly price.
Flood insurance is optional for most homeowners, but it may be beneficial to obtain a policy so you are protected in the event of a natural disaster. Coverage is offered through the FEMA-managed National Flood Insurance Program and by some private insurers. Speak with your local insurance agent to learn more about your options for flood insurance.