Flood Insurance From The National Flood Insurance Program

Authored By: National Flood Insurance Program
Read this in: Spanish / Español


About Flood Insurance From The National Flood Insurance Program

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides flood insurance to property owners, renters, and businesses. The key objective is to mitigate the impact of flooding by offering affordable insurance options and encouraging the adoption of floodplain management regulations by communities.

When considering the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and flood insurance in general, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of how it works, who qualifies, what it covers, and what it requires.

Here's a list of essential questions you may need to know, which can help you navigate the specifics of flood insurance. 

What You Need To Know

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA plays a critical role in the administration and oversight of the NFIP, fulfilling several key functions related to flood insurance:

  1. Policy and Program Management: FEMA sets the guidelines for the NFIP, including policy terms, rates, and coverage limitations. It oversees the program's implementation across the United States, ensuring that the NFIP's objectives of reducing the impact of flooding on private and public structures are met.

  2. Risk Assessment and Mapping: One of FEMA's significant contributions to flood insurance is its work in flood hazard mapping. FEMA develops Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that delineate flood hazards in various communities. These maps are used to assess the risk level of specific areas, which in turn affects insurance premiums and requirements for flood insurance coverage.

  3. Community Participation and Enforcement: FEMA works with communities nationwide to encourage participation in the NFIP. Participation requires communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances that meet FEMA standards. In return, residents and businesses in these communities are eligible to purchase NFIP flood insurance and receive federal disaster assistance for flood disasters.

  4. Education and Outreach: FEMA also plays a vital role in educating the public about flood risks, the importance of flood insurance, and how communities can adopt better floodplain management practices. This includes providing resources and support to help individuals and communities understand their flood risk and protect themselves against it.

  5. Claims and Financial Management: When floods occur, FEMA oversees the claims process for policyholders under the NFIP. This involves ensuring that claims are processed efficiently and policyholders receive the compensation they're entitled to under their policies. FEMA also manages the financial aspects of the NFIP, including setting insurance premiums that reflect the risk of flooding while ensuring the program's financial sustainability.

In essence, FEMA's role encompasses the entire spectrum of flood insurance operations under the NFIP, from policy creation and risk assessment to community engagement, financial management, and claims processing. This comprehensive management approach is designed to reduce the economic impact of floods on the nation, while promoting sound community-based floodplain management and mitigation efforts to minimize future flood damage.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers flood insurance coverage for a wide range of property types, ensuring protection for various stakeholders from the financial losses caused by flooding. The types of properties that can be insured under the NFIP include:

1. Residential Properties

  • Single-family homes: These are the most common type of dwelling covered by the NFIP.
  • Multi-family homes: Buildings containing two to four units, such as duplexes and quadruplexes, are eligible for coverage.
  • Condominiums: Both individual condo units and entire condominium buildings can be insured. Condo owners can purchase coverage for their units, while associations can insure the common areas and the building itself.
  • Apartments: Renters can purchase contents-only coverage to protect their belongings within rented properties.

2. Commercial Properties

  • Business buildings: Commercial buildings, including offices, shops, and industrial spaces, are eligible for NFIP coverage.
  • Non-residential buildings: This category includes structures not primarily used for residential or business purposes, such as churches, community centers, and schools.

3. Other Types of Properties

  • Agricultural structures: Certain agricultural structures may be eligible for coverage, although there are limitations on what can be insured under an NFIP policy.
  • Temporary structures and accessory buildings: Coverage for these structures is limited and often requires specific conditions to be met.

NFIP flood insurance provides coverage for both the building structure and its contents, but these are covered under separate policies. Here's a detailed look at what each type of coverage includes:

Building Property Coverage

  • Structure of the Building: This includes the foundation, walls, and roof.
  • Electrical and Plumbing Systems: Wiring, plumbing, and heating systems are covered.
  • Central Air Conditioning Equipment, Furnaces, and Water Heaters: Fixed equipment like AC units and furnaces are included.
  • Refrigerators, Cooking Stoves, and Built-in Appliances: Appliances that are built into the structure and not easily removed.
  • Permanently Installed Carpeting over Unfinished Flooring: This covers carpeting that is installed over bare floors.
  • Permanently Installed Paneling, Wallboard, Bookcases, and Cabinets: If these fixtures are damaged by flood, they are covered.
  • Window Blinds: Fixed window blinds are included.
  • Detached Garages (up to 10% of Building Property coverage): A portion of the coverage can be used for detached garages (but not for business purposes).
  • Debris Removal: The policy covers the cost of removing debris caused by flooding.

Personal Property (Contents) Coverage

  • Personal Belongings: This includes clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment.
  • Curtains: Window treatments and similar items are covered.
  • Portable and Window Air Conditioners: Unlike built-in units, these are covered under contents.
  • Portable Microwaves and Dishwashers: Appliances that are not permanently installed.
  • Carpets Not Included Under Building Coverage: This refers to carpets installed over finished flooring or carpets within apartments.
  • Washers and Dryers: These appliances are covered under the contents policy.
  • Certain Valuable Items: The policy covers up to a certain limit for items like original artwork and furs.

What's Not Covered

Both types of policies have exclusions. For instance, property outside of an insured building (like trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs, and swimming pools) is not covered. Additionally, financial losses caused by business interruption or loss of use of the insured property are not covered. Damage caused by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner or which is not attributable directly to the flood, is also excluded.

It's important for policyholders to review their coverage with an insurance agent to understand fully what is and isn't covered under their NFIP policy, including any limitations or exclusions that may apply.

No, NFIP flood insurance does not cover additional living expenses or displacement costs, such as temporary housing, if your home is uninhabitable due to flood damage. This is a significant difference from some homeowners' insurance policies, which may offer coverage for living expenses if your home is damaged by a covered peril other than flooding.

NFIP policies focus on the physical damage to the building structure and its contents, without extending to cover the costs associated with relocating or finding temporary accommodation. This limitation underscores the importance of understanding the scope of coverage under NFIP flood insurance and considering the need for supplemental insurance policies that can offer broader protection, including coverage for living expenses in the event of displacement.

Yes, there are specific eligibility requirements for purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, the program is designed to be broadly accessible. Here are the key eligibility criteria:

  1. Community Participation: The primary requirement is that you must live in a community that participates in the NFIP. The NFIP works with communities by offering flood insurance to residents and business owners on the condition that the community adopts and enforces floodplain management ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.

  2. Property Location: While flood insurance is available in participating communities, the cost and availability might vary significantly depending on whether your property is located in a high-risk flood zone, moderate-to-low-risk flood zone, or undetermined-risk area as defined by FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

  3. Type of Property: Flood insurance through the NFIP is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial property owners/renters. This broad eligibility aims to ensure that various types of properties can be protected against flood damage.

  4. Insurance Mandate: For some, purchasing flood insurance through the NFIP might not be optional. If you have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender and your property is in a high-risk flood area, you are required to have flood insurance. However, even if it's not mandated, anyone in a participating community can buy a policy.

In summary, the NFIP makes flood insurance available to most individuals and businesses in participating communities, regardless of the flood zone, with the requirement being more stringent for properties in high-risk areas. It's essential to check with local officials or the NFIP directly to confirm your eligibility, especially if you're unsure whether your community participates in the program or if your property falls within a specific flood risk area.

Flood insurance is mandatory in certain circumstances, particularly for property owners and renters in high-risk flood areas, known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). Here are the specific conditions under which flood insurance is required:

  1. Mortgages from Federally Regulated or Insured Lenders: If you have a mortgage on a property located in an SFHA from a federally regulated or insured lender, you must purchase flood insurance. This requirement is enforced to protect the financial investment in the property, given the high risk of flooding in these areas.

  2. Federally Backed Mortgages for Homes in High-Risk Areas: For homes located in high-risk flood zones and financed through federally backed mortgage programs (such as FHA, and VA loans), flood insurance is a mandatory condition of the mortgage.

  3. Receiving Federal Aid After a Flood Disaster: If you live in an SFHA and have received federal disaster assistance following a flood, you may be required to purchase flood insurance to qualify for future aid. This stipulation aims to reduce future federal expenditure on repairs and recovery for properties in flood-prone areas.

Outside of these conditions, flood insurance is not federally mandated. However, it's essential to note that floods can happen in moderate- to low-risk areas as well, and FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) strongly recommend that property owners and renters outside of SFHAs consider purchasing flood insurance as protection against the financial devastation that floods can cause.

Purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) involves a straightforward process, but it's essential to be aware of the waiting period and other key steps. Here’s a general overview of how to buy NFIP flood insurance and the associated waiting period:

How to Purchase NFIP Flood Insurance

  1. Determine Eligibility: Ensure that your community participates in the NFIP. Flood insurance through the NFIP is only available in participating communities that adhere to certain floodplain management regulations set by FEMA.

  2. Find an Insurance Agent: Contact an insurance agent or company that works with the NFIP. You don’t need to go directly through FEMA to get flood insurance. Most insurance agents can help you purchase a policy.

  3. Discuss Coverage Options: Work with your insurance agent to discuss coverage options, limits, and what is or isn’t covered under the NFIP policy. Decide whether you need coverage for just the building, contents, or both.

  4. Provide Property Details: Your insurance agent may require information about your property, such as its location, construction details, and possibly an elevation certificate if your property is in a high-risk area.

  5. Complete the Application and Pay the Premium: Once you’ve decided on the coverage, you'll need to complete an application and pay the insurance premium. Your agent will guide you through this process.

Waiting Period

  • Standard Waiting Period: There is a standard 30-day waiting period from the date you purchase the policy until the coverage goes into effect. This measure is in place to prevent individuals from buying insurance only when immediate flood risks, such as an approaching storm, become apparent.

  • Exceptions to the Waiting Period:

    • If the insurance purchase is in connection with a loan closing, the waiting period may be waived, allowing coverage to start at the time of the closing.
    • If a property is newly designated in a high-risk flood zone and the insurance is purchased within the 13 months following a map revision, there is a 1-day waiting period.
    • There are a few other specific conditions where the waiting period might be reduced or waived, so it’s worth discussing these with your insurance agent.

Filing a claim for flood damage under an NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) policy involves several steps. Here's a general guideline on how to proceed if your property is damaged by a flood:

1. Notify Your Insurer

  • As soon as possible after discovering flood damage, contact your insurance company or agent to report the claim. Have your policy number and contact information ready, along with a phone number where you can be reached. You can also call the NFIP at 877-336-2627. 

2. Document the Damage and Prepare For Your Inspection

  • Take photographs or videos of all the damaged property, including structural damage to your home and damage to your personal belongings. This documentation is crucial for the claims process.
  • Make a detailed list of damaged or lost items. Include descriptions, the date of purchase, and the approximate value of each item. If possible, provide receipts, or other proof of purchase and value.

3. Complete a Proof of Loss Statement

  • Your insurance company will require a "Proof of Loss" form, which is your sworn statement of the amount you are claiming, including necessary supporting documentation. This form must be filled out and returned to your insurer within 60 days of the flood unless this deadline is extended by FEMA.
  • The Proof of Loss includes details about the property, the cause of loss, and the amount of damage. Accurate and complete documentation supports your claim.

4. Adjuster Visit

  • The insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect the damage. The adjuster's role is to assess the damage and help determine your claim's coverage under your policy.
  • When the adjuster visits, show them all the damage and provide them with a list of damaged or destroyed items. It's helpful to have your documentation and any photos or videos ready to share.

5. Claim Settlement

  • After the adjuster has reviewed the damage, they will prepare a report that outlines what is covered under your policy and the estimated costs.
  • If you agree with the adjuster’s report, sign the Proof of Loss statement confirming the amount. Upon approval by the insurance company, you will receive payment for your claim, subject to your policy's terms and deductibles.

Property owners can take several proactive steps to prepare for filing a flood insurance claim, which can streamline the process and help ensure they receive an accurate and fair settlement. Here are some recommended actions:

Before a Flood Occurs

  1. Review Your Policy: Understand what your flood insurance policy covers and does not cover. Know your deductible amounts and any coverage limits. If anything is unclear, discuss it with your insurance agent.

  2. Document Property and Belongings:

    • Inventory: Create a comprehensive inventory of your home and belongings. Include descriptions, purchase dates, and values of items. This inventory will be invaluable in proving the value of your possessions.
    • Photographs and Videos: Take photographs or videos of your home and belongings, emphasizing high-value items. Document the condition of your property before any damage occurs.
  3. Keep Important Documents Safe: Store your insurance policy, inventory list, and any other important documents in a safe, waterproof location. Consider keeping digital copies in a secure cloud storage service for easy access.

  4. Know Your Policy Number: Ensure you have your policy number readily available for quick reference when you need to report a claim.

  5. Emergency Plan: Have an emergency plan that includes contact information for your insurance company and agent.

After a Flood Occurs

  1. Immediate Documentation: As soon as it is safe to do so, document the damage:

    • Take photographs or video of the floodwater level and any damage caused by the flood to both the structure of your home and personal property.
    • Make a list of all damaged or lost items, including their age, purchase price, and estimated replacement costs.
  2. Mitigate Further Damage: Take any necessary steps to prevent further damage to your property (without putting yourself at risk), such as covering broken windows or leaking roofs. Keep receipts for any materials you purchase, as these costs may be reimbursed.

  3. Keep Records of Communication: Note down dates, times, and summaries of conversations with your insurance company, adjuster, and any contractors. Keep copies of all correspondence.

  4. Temporary Repairs: If you need to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, photograph the areas before and after repairs and keep all receipts. Do not make permanent repairs until the insurance adjuster has assessed the damage.

By taking these preparatory steps, property owners can better navigate the complexities of filing a flood insurance claim, ensuring a more organized and evidence-backed claim process. This preparation not only helps in documenting the extent of the damage more accurately but also facilitates a smoother communication flow with the insurance provider, potentially leading to a quicker and more satisfactory claim resolution.

Last Review and Update: Mar 01, 2024
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