Flooding may not seem like a huge risk in Arizona, but the desert’s rock-hard ground is no match for the torrential rains of summer monsoons. What’s more, the forest fires that strike every year decimate the trees, shrubbery, and other ground cover that help hold back floodwaters. These two realities combine to create the perfect conditions for flash flooding.
Few homeowner insurance policies include coverage for flood damage. Protection for your home and possessions requires you to purchase a flood insurance policy.
The FEMA website provides flood risk information. Just enter your address or coordinates in the search bar.
What is flood insurance?
Flood insurance is an insurance policy provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You may purchase policies to cover damage to your dwelling, separate buildings on the property, such as detached garages, and belongings within these buildings. Each type of coverage requires a separate policy.
How does NFIP define flooding?
Flood insurance does not cover flooding that originates from within the home, such as that due to burst pipes. These policies cover damage sustained due to water originating outside your home flowing into the dwelling at ground level.
How long does it take for a flood insurance policy to take effect?
Most policies have a 30-day waiting period. In other words, do not wait until the rain starts to fall to purchase a flood insurance policy; it will not cover damages sustained within that 30-day waiting period.
What is the maximum flood insurance coverage available?
NFIP offers homeowners up to $250,000 flood insurance on a residence. Both homeowners and renters may obtain policies on the home’s contents, with coverage up to $100,000. Separate buildings, as well as the contents within those buildings, require separate policies.
Businesses may insure both structures and contents for up to $500,000. Again, this requires two separate policies.
Do I have to go through FEMA or NFIP to obtain a flood insurance policy?
No, your regular insurance agent can sell you a flood insurance policy.
Do I need flood insurance if I don’t live in a high-risk zone?
Yes, over 20 percent of all flood insurance claims originate in low-risk zones.
How do they determine my premium?
Flood insurance premiums are based mainly on the flood risk of your area.
The NFIP uses a Community Rating System (CRS) that incentivizes communities to implement practices that reduce flood risk. Areas that meet the CRS criteria receive a discount on flood insurance. For example, the Flood Control District of Maricopa County participates in this program. Area residents receive flood insurance discounts of up to 30 percent.
Doesn’t federal disaster assistance pay for flood damage?
Not really. Most federal disaster assistance is actually a low-interest loan. In addition, the President must declare the event to be a disaster before homeowners become eligible for one of these loans.
What does flood insurance building coverage include?
Building coverage includes the building as well as its foundation. In addition, homeowners receive coverage on their:
- Carpeting, if permanently installed over an unfinished floor
- Electrical system
- HVAC equipment, including central air, furnace, and water heater
- Major built-in kitchen appliances, including refrigerator, cook stove, and dishwasher
- Plumbing system
What does flood insurance contents coverage include?
Coverage for contents within the dwelling includes:
- Carpeting not covered by property policies
- Electronic equipment
- Portable and/or window A/C units
- Portable dishwashers
- Portable microwaves
- Washer and dryer
Is there anything flood insurance does not cover?
Yes, flood insurance does not cover everything within your home. In addition, it does not cover anything outside your home, including the land itself. Non-covered items include:
- Currency and precious metals
- Fences and walls
- Landscaping, such as trees and plants
- Pools and hot tubs
- Self-propelled vehicles, such as cars and trucks
- Septic systems
- Valuable papers, such as stock certificates
- Walkways, decks, and patios
In addition, flood insurance does not provide reimbursement for living expenses, such as temporary housing, if water damage forces you from your home. It also forbids claims for financial losses due to interruption of business (whether that conducted in a commercial building or home-based business).