Flood InsuranceIn light of the unfortunate flooding in the Mississippi River area, people are wondering, “What if this happened to me? How can I protect myself and my family?”

According to FloodSmart.gov (the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program), everyone is at risk of flooding. Floods can happen almost anywhere. In fact, floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S. They can happen even if you don’t live in a high-risk area. For instance, a flood can happen during winter when temperatures rise suddenly and the frozen ground can’t absorb the melting snow.

The Cost of Flooding

Floods can be extremely costly. Over the last 10 years, the average flood claim has amounted to approximately $48,000. For instance, the cost of a 6-inch flood in a 1000- square foot home is about $20,000. Here is a sample breakdown of the cost associated with a 6-inch flood:

  • Cleaning = $1,000
  • Doors, base, trim and windows = $1,100
  • Electrical and plumbing = $150
  • Finished floor, wood, carpet = $7,900
  • Interior wall finishes = $1,000
  • Wall insulation, drywall or paneling = $1,500
  • Kitchen and bath cabinets= $2,400
  • Appliances = $90
  • Repairs to furnace/AC = $250
  • Bedroom furniture = $950
  • Dining room furniture = $900
  • Kitchen ware and food = $150
  • Living room furniture = $1,400
  • Computer accessories = $600
  • TV accessories = $80
  • Washer and drier = $80
  • Accent furniture and accessories = $250
  • Personal items = $350

As you can see, even a “small” flood can make a huge impact and damage on your property.

Who Is Required to Buy Flood Insurance?

For homeowners who live in coastal and high-risk zones, flood insurance is mandatory. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mandates it for any mortgage that is backed by the government

For homes built in low to moderate-risk and undetermined risk zones, flood insurance is optional. While flood insurance is not federally required for moderate-to-low risk areas, it is still recommended. Some people choose to purchase flood insurance just for the peace of mind.

How Can You Buy a Flood Insurance Policy?

Unfortunately, standard homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flooding. This means that homeowners have to purchase separate flooding insurance. There are two ways an owner can purchase flood insurance:

  1. If the property is required to have flood insurance and is financed with a federally backed mortgage (FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) then the owner can purchase insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  2. If the property is not in a high-risk or coastal area and having flood insurance is optional, then the owner can purchase a policy through the NFIP or with an insurance company that offers this type of insurance.

Keep in mind that regardless where you purchase the flood insurance (NFIP or an insurance company) you will always use an insurance agent to purchase it. You can always contact the NFIP for a referral to an insurance agent.

Is My Home In A Flood Zone?

Even if you are renting, it’s still wise to learn if your home is in a flood zone. You can ask your insurance company or your community floodplain manager for a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). A FIRM will generally show a community’s base flood elevations, flood zones and floodplain boundaries. Keep in mind that FIRM maps are constantly being updated due to changes in geography, construction, mitigation activities and meteorological events.

We hope this article helps you prepare in case of flooding. Please visit the National Flood Insurance Program’s website to get more information.

To help those affected by the Mississippi River flood, please visit the American Red Cross website.


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