Many homeowners mistakenly believe their homeowners insurance policy covers flood damage. It doesn't, and up to 75 percent of the buildings in the U.S. located in areas with a high risk of flooding are not covered by flood insurance. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, and businesses whose communities participate in the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood insurance can be purchased through any licensed property/casualty insurance professional who is writing flood insurance under arrangements with the Federal Insurance Administration. A 30-day waiting period is required between the time you purchase flood insurance and the time it goes into effect.
Renting your home? Be sure to check your renter's insurance policy. Some companies offer added flood protection for renters.
Your car is covered for flood damage if you purchase "comprehensive coverage." See Auto Insurance Basics for more information.
Colorado Under Water: A Primer on the National Flood Insurance Program
Before the Flood
Know the elevation of your property in relation to nearby bodies of water. If your home is not on high ground, know where high ground is and how to get there quickly.
Keep apprised of weather conditions both where you are and upstream. Distant rain or snowmelt can cause a rampaging torrent headed in your direction in minutes.
Be aware of flood watches and warnings. If a flood watch or warning has been issued, move your family (and belongings, if there is time) to high ground. In some cases, flood insurance will reimburse the costs you incur for moving and temporarily storing the contents of your home.
Remember: Your homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage. If you decide to buy a flood insurance policy, which is the only type of policy that covers flood damage, consider insuring your home for 100 percent of replacement cost and buying insurance to cover the contents of your home, as well as the dwelling.
During the Flood
Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot if the water is above your knees.
Do not try to drive over a flooded road. If the vehicle stalls, you and the vehicle may be swept away. Abandon a stalled vehicle immediately.
Avoid traveling at night, when flood dangers are more difficult to recognize.
After the Flood
Contact your insurance professional immediately.
Stay away from disaster areas so your presence doesn't impede rescue efforts and other emergency operations.
Drink only boiled water, and discard any fresh food that may have been contaminated by floodwaters.
Flood Insurance Q&A
Q. Can I buy flood insurance if I am located in a high-flood-risk area?
A. You can buy National Flood Insurance no matter where you live if your community participates in the NFIP, except in Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) areas. In fact, lenders must require borrowers whose property is located within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) to purchase flood insurance as a condition of receiving a federally regulated loan. There is an exemption for conventional loans on properties within CBRS areas.
Q. Can I buy flood insurance immediately before or during a flood?
A. You can purchase Flood insurance at any time. However, there is a 30-day waiting period after you've applied and paid the premium before the policy is effective, with the following exceptions:
If the initial purchase of flood insurance is in connection with the making, increasing, extending or renewing of a loan, there is no waiting period. The coverage becomes effective at the time of the loan, provided application and payment of premium is made at or prior to loan closing.
If the initial purchase of flood insurance is made during the 13-month period following the effective date of a revised flood map for a community, there is a one-day waiting period. This only applies where the Flood Insurance Rage Map (FIRM) is revised to show the building to be in a SFHA when it had not been in a SFHA.
The policy does not cover a "loss in progress," defined by the NFIP as a loss occurring as a 12:01 a.m. on the first day of the policy term. In addition, you cannot increase the amount of insurance coverage you have during a loss in progress.
Q. Doesn't my homeowners' insurance policy cover flooding?
A. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not find out until it is too late that their homeowners' policies do not cover flooding. National Flood Insurance protects your most valuable assets - you home and belongings, and is purchased in addition to a homeowners' insurance policy.
Q. Is flood insurance only available for homeowners?
A. Flood insurance is available to protect homes, condominiums, apartments and non-residential buildings including commercial structures.
Q. Can I buy flood insurance if my property has been flooded previously?
A. You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance after your home, apartment or business has been flooded, provided that your community is participating in the NFIP.
Q. I don't live in a high-flood-risk zone, so why would I purchase flood insurance?
A. Even if you live in an area that is not flood-prone, it is advisable to have flood insurance. Between 20 percent and 25 percent of the NFIP's claims come from outside high-flood-risk areas. The NFIP's Preferred Risk Policy, starting at just over $100 per year, is designed for residential properties located in low-to-moderate-flood risk zones.
Q. How do I purchase National Flood Insurance?
A. NFIP flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and agents, and is backed by the Federal government. Call your insurance agent or company representative to learn if your community participates in NFIP.
Q. Does NFIP offer any type of basement coverage?
A. Some. The NFIP defines a basement as any area of a building with a flood that is below ground level on all sides. While flood insurance does not cover basement improvements, such as finished walls, floors or ceilings, or personal belongings that may be kept in the basement, such as furniture and other contents, it does cover structural elements, essential equipment and other basic items normally located in a basement. Many of these items are covered under building coverage, and some are covered under contents coverage.
For more information, visit www.floodsmart.gov.