The Ins and Outs of Flood Insurance
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“I’m not in a flood zone, so I don’t need flood insurance.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. Each time my reply is: “Well, that’s not exactly true.”
Most of the country is in some kind of a flood zone, a designation that indicates the area’s risk of flooding – some are just more severe than others. So, what does that mean for you as a homeowner? It means you are at risk of flooding, even if it hasn’t happened in your area in recent memory. And, it also means that you may want to consider buying flood insurance.
Here are five important things to know about a policy for flood coverage:
- It’s a separate policy. The typical homeowners insurance policy does not offer any coverage for flooding. None. But, you can likely purchase a separate flood policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. A few carriers in Florida also offer private flood insurance as an alternative.
- Different flood zones have different flood insurance costs. The zone in which you reside will help determine your flood insurance costs, along with other factors. And, yes, the more severe the flood zone, the higher your insurance rates may be.
- Your lender may require it. If you purchase a house in one of the more severe flood zones, your lender will likely require you to carry flood insurance as a condition of your loan. If you purchase the home with cash or pay off your mortgage, it will be up to you whether or not you carry the coverage. Just be sure to discuss any major insurance changes with a local independent agent first.
- Flood insurance is not just for coastal areas. Take, for example, the flooding just this year in West Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee. It all goes to show that even if you don’t live near the coast, a flood could still devastate your area and your home.
- What your policy covers will depend on the policy itself. Most people who buy flood insurance want dwelling and belongings coverage. Be sure you understand what you’re buying and how much coverage you’ll have.
Keep in mind that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) periodically updates its flood zone maps. Even if you have flood insurance now, you may want to check whether it is still insuring you at the level you want.