What Homeowners Need to Know About National Flood Insurance!

How owners can easily navigate rough waters!

The purpose of flood insurance is to protect homeowners and renters against losses caused by flooding – losses that a typical homeowner’s policy does not cover. Whether you own a condo or a house, whether you’re a builder or a tenant, here’s information to help you know who qualifies for this insurance, where to get it and how the program works.

Flood insurance is only available in communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Homeowners, builders and communities want to preserve and protect their property. What measures exist to help them?

Why take out flood insurance?

You might think you don’t live close enough to water to be at risk, but dams and levees break, drainage systems can become overloaded and back up, and hurricanes can veer off course.

Protecting your home and belongings with flood insurance is much less expensive than cleaning up after the fact. You also cannot count on the help of the Presidential Declaration on Disasters. Even if such a statement is made for your area, it may take a long time for the money to arrive.

The National Flood Insurance Program

Over time, the US government realized that the measures in place to discourage unwise land development or to reduce flood losses were simply not working. Therefore, in 1968, Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program to protect homeowners against the possibility of loss.

How it works?

A community must agree to adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance designed to reduce future flood risk in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). When a community follows or agrees to follow these laws, the federal government will make flood insurance available to all property owners in that community.

Each homeowner must then follow all FEMA and NFIP requirements, whether or not they have flood insurance. One of the requirements is to properly install anti-flood vents.

How do you define community?

A community is a state, region or political subdivision; any Indian Tribe, Authorized Tribal Organization or Alaska Native Village; or an authorized Aboriginal organization with the authority to adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance for the area under its jurisdiction.

Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary, although some states require participation as part of their floodplain management program. Each community in an identified flood zone must assess its flood risk and determine whether flood insurance and floodplain management would benefit its residents and economy.

How are flood zones determined?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) produces maps that identify various flood hazard areas, such as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), a high-risk area that has a 1% chance of occur every year. The government considers this high hazard standard to be a reasonable compromise between the need for floodplain development and the need for building restrictions to minimize loss of life and property.

Development can take place within the SFHA as long as it complies with local floodplain management ordinances that meet minimum federal requirements. Flood insurance is required for insurable structures in high-risk areas.

What kinds of requirements are there?

When a community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, each landowner in that community must follow all FEMA code requirements as outlined in their Floodplain Management Ordinance. This is true whether or not the homeowner purchases flood insurance. These code requirements include, but are not limited to, foundation openings (also known as “flood vents”) and first flood elevation height requirements.

What types of structures can be insured?

If you are in a community that participates in the NFIP, almost any building type with walls and roofs that are mostly above ground and not entirely over water can be insured. This includes mobile homes and trailers without wheels that are anchored to permanent foundations. Separate coverage is available for the contents of these buildings.

What is not insurable under the NFIP?

Buildings entirely above water or mostly underground, gas and liquid storage tanks, animals, birds, fish, aircraft, docks, piers, bulkheads, growing crops, shrubs, land, livestock, roads, machinery, motor vehicles, open-air equipment. Most contents and finishing materials located in a basement or in enclosures below the lowest raised floor of a raised building are not covered.

How to find out if you can buy insurance

Landlords and tenants can see if their community participates in the NFIP by contacting a community manager or insurance agent or by visiting http://www.fema.gov/fema/csb.

How to get an insurance policy

If your local insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, call the NFIP at 1-888-379-9531 or visit http://www.floodsmart.gov.

What flood insurance coverage is available?

The NFIP Flood Insurance Handbook provides coverage limits under Residential Condominium Building Association policy. Under its regular program, owners can buy up to $250,000 per single-family home or other residential building and up to $500,000 for a non-residential building. Coverage is available up to $100,000 for residential building contents and up to $500,000 for non-residential contents.

When to take out flood insurance?

There is usually a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to take effect. Remember that hurricane season is flood season, so purchase your insurance well in advance.

Tips to remember

1 – Everyone lives in a flood zone.

2 – Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage.

3 – Whatever your risk of flooding, you can take out flood insurance if your municipality participates in the NFIP.

4 – Don’t wait for federal disaster assistance to help you.

5 – Keep your home compliant with federal regulations.

6 – There is usually a 30 day waiting period before your policy takes effect.

7 – Buy a separate font to protect your content.

This article is not intended to replace the complete FEMA guidelines. For more information, visit FEMA.gov.

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