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Flood Insurance

If you can't see a body of water from your window, chances are flood insurance wasn't a high priority when you closed on your home. You wouldn't be alone — many homebuyers mistakenly assume flood insurance is a worry for the floodplains and coasts.

But whether your home is seaside or landlocked, it's at risk. All 50 states have had a flood in the last five years. What's worse? Even a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Standard homeowners policies usually don't cover flood damage, so it's up to you to invest in flood insurance and your home's protection.

Nearly all homeowners policies exclude coverage for flood damage.

What Is Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance addresses some of the water-related perils most homeowners insurance policies exclude. Essentially, it can pay for property damaged by naturally occurring floods, such as…

  • Heavy rains.
  • Snowmelt.
  • Mudflow.
  • Hurricanes.
  • Winter storms.

Typically, flood insurance is a separate policy from your homeowners insurance. You can customize it to cover your home, its contents, or both.

Why Do I Need Flood Insurance if My Homeowners Policy Covers Water Damage?

Your homeowners insurance probably only covers certain kinds of water damage, such as the buckled floor after your pipes burst. But water damage from a flood is almost universally excluded.

Without flood insurance, you could be on the hook for replacing…

  • Waterlogged floors and carpets.
  • Soggy furniture and personal items.
  • Unusable electronics and appliances.
  • Destroyed air conditioners and heaters.

And don't forget: you have to clean up before you can even think about making repairs. Not only does flood insurance cover damages like these, but it can also foot the bill for debris removal.

But It Never Floods Here. I Don't Think I'm Even in a Flood Zone.

Almost everyone lives in a flood zone. Granted, some areas are so high risk that lenders require flood insurance, and rightly so. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) states these zones have at least a 25 percent chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage.

But living in a low- to moderate-risk area doesn't eliminate the problem. Flooding can damage homes…

  • On a hillside. Melting snow can create mudflow that topples a house.
  • In a dry area. Dry ground can't absorb rainwater, which can cause flash floods.
  • Far from bodies of water. Broken water mains and insufficient storm drains can also cause floods.
  • Near new development. New housing in your neighborhood means less ground to absorb rainfall.

The National Flood Insurance Program regularly rewrites flood maps, too, so your moderate-risk zone can jump to high-risk next time your area is reviewed. But the real lesson is there's no such thing as a flood-free zone. Given the right circumstances, any area can flood — even yours.

Houses in high-risk flood zones have a 25% risk of flooding before their mortgage is up.

Flood Insurance Is Expensive. Maybe I Should Risk It?

Before you jump to that conclusion, keep in mind that 20 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program claims come from people in low-risk zones. Now consider two inches of flooding in a 1,000 square-foot home can cause nearly $11,000 in damages.

Sound like a gamble you'd want to take?

Probably not, especially when you realize how affordable flood insurance can be if you're not on a floodplain. High-risk areas may be a bit pricier, but you can still save money by:

  • Being as accurate as possible on your application.
  • Getting grandfathered in on an earlier flood map.
  • Upgrading your house to make it more flood-resistant.
Two inches of flooding can cause $11,000 in damage.

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Have 5 minutes to spare? Apply online to find out how much you can save on flood insurance for your home.