Everyone fears storm damage in the form of hurricane-force winds and bolts of lighting, but not everyone considers floodwater. Damage as a result of a flood can range from wet flooring to entire rooms getting submerged. It’s unavoidable in certain at-risk areas.
A flood insurance policy exists to provide some form of coverage when you lose possessions or suffer damage to your home in such an event. While they can have high premiums, it’s a worthwhile investment that can save you a lot of money down the line.
Here’s how to select flood insurance companies that can help protect you from disaster.
NFIP vs Private
There are two main ways to get flood insurance. The first is through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The second is through a private insurance company.
NFIP coverage is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It partners with various insurance providers to manage the policy and sell it to homeowners.
It’s available to anyone that lives in participating communities across the country. Homeowners get up to $250,000 coverage for their homes and $100,000 for their possessions.
Meanwhile, private flood insurance is not underwritten by the federal government. As such, they can offer higher coverage limits as well as cover damages that NFIP does not.
Some things NFIP insurance doesn’t cover include:
- Damage to outdoor property
- Additional living expenses while away from home
- Vehicle damage
- Basement renovations and stored belongings
Look at Your Options for Insurance Companies
If you’re unsure of whether or not your community qualifies for NFIP coverage, then you can apply through fema.gov. You can also call your current insurance company or agent to learn more about your options. Those who qualify for NFIP coverage should be able to purchase it through them or a partner company.
Homeowners who do not qualify for NFIP coverage or are unsatisfied with that level of coverage can always get private flood insurance. This is a more common option for someone who owns a particularly expensive piece of residential property or who wants coverage for their commercial building.
Determine What Coverage You Need
The primary reason to get flood insurance is to provide coverage after water damage. Water damage restoration can easily cost you thousands of dollars, depending on how much was destroyed.
However, not all flood insurance options provide the same types of coverage or for the same kinds of properties.
For example, some mortgages require you to purchase flood insurance as part of the deal. There’s usually a bare minimum to cover the outstanding balance on the loan, but it may not be enough to cover all of the potential damage.
In that case, you’d want to buy additional flood insurance for your belongings as well as for the home’s structure.
Additionally, you may have a cap on your coverage depending on what company provides your insurance.
Compare Insurance Costs
Comparing insurance costs is important whether you’re dealing with both NFIP and private coverage. The amount you’ll need to pay per year will depend on your state and your property.
Florida has the cheapest flood insurance on average, while Vermont has some of the most expensive. The cost of your insurance is further affected by your property’s unique flood risk.
According to FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0, your property’s flood risk id determined by:
- Flood frequency
- Flood type
- Vicinity to a body of water
- Property characteristics such as soil type
- Cost to rebuild your home
You then decide on one of many policies that offer different levels of coverage up to the maximum.
Read Online Reviews
Once you have a list of potential flood insurance candidates, you’ll want to check out the reviews for them. However, you need to keep in mind how exactly to read reviews to differentiate the fake from the real.
Always make sure to check things like the date, the profile leaving the review, and their past reviews.
You should also be aware that most people only post reviews if they have had very positive or very negative experiences. Try to find reviewers that go into detail about their past experience dealing with this insurance provider.
Speak With a Representative
Try to get in touch with a representative, especially if you’re purchasing flood insurance on your own.
It’s important that you know how to get in touch with them and can get in touch with them quickly. The last thing you want is to have difficulty reaching a human being when your home has suffered serious flood damage. It’s even worse if they cannot answer your questions or give you false information.
Your insurance representative should be able to give you definitive answers, even if it requires them to call back later in the day. They should also be able to quickly send someone to assess the damage to your home so you can get started on repairs.
Read the Insurance Terms and Conditions
The best tip you’ll get from any flood insurance guide is to take the time and read the insurance terms and conditions. They explicitly detail everything you can expect from your insurance plan, such as what they cover and what they don’t.
This is especially important if you’re opting for a private insurance provider. Although they can offer more coverage than NFIP options, they aren’t bound to the same guidelines. You may end up dealing with a longer claims process or having it denied.
Select Flood Insurance Companies You Can Trust
No homeowner should take for granted their safety during and after a storm. Flood damage can completely destroy your house and everything within it. It’s important to select flood insurance companies that can protect your assets and can be depended on.
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