The National Flood Insurance Program
Floods are the nation's most common natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year. One of the best ways to protect your home from flood damage is to purchase flood insurance. Flood damage is not typically covered by standard homeowners and renters insurance policies.
Flood insurance is provided by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future damage.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the NFIP provides coverage for up to $250,000 for the structure of the home and up to $100,000 for personal possessions. Private flood insurance is available for those who need additional insurance protection, known as access coverage, over and above the basic policy, or for people whose communities do not participate in the NFIP.
The 2018 Insurance Information Institute survey found that 15 percent of American homeowners had a flood insurance policy, which is up from 12 percent in 2016.
The Ohio Insurance Institute (OII) noted that more than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside of high-risk flood zones. Because of this, insurers suggest investing in flood insurance regardless of where you reside. Remember, flooding can happen anywhere, anytime.
Flood Insurance Facts
- Typically, there's a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase until your policy goes into effect. Click here to read the exceptions.
- Flood insurance claims can be made regardless of whether there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
- Ohioans with questions about their homeowners and auto insurance as it relates to flood damage can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 and also visit www.insurance.ohio.gov. The department urges Ohioans to regularly review their insurance needs to make sure adequate financial protection is in place.
- As of March 28, 2019, the average flood insurance premium in Ohio is $1,051 annually, compared to $701 nationally. The average flood insurance premium for states within FEMA Region V (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin) is $1,017.
- Most Ohio communities qualify for the NFIP. OII notes that counties that are home to Ohio's major cities have experienced some of the highest number of flooding events: Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Montgomery counties.
- Click here to view a list of Ohio communities that participate in the NFIP.
- 98% of U.S. counties have been impacted by a flooding event.
- $43,000 is the average flood claim payout from NFIP.
- $700 is the average annual flood insurance policy premium cost.
You have flood insurance and flooding is expected. What do you do now?
Protect your home or workplace before severe weather hits. Prepare for an emergency or disaster by collecting sources of information, developing an emergency communications plan, packing emergency supply kits, and knowing what to do when a flood is approaching.
- Stay Informed: Learn things you can do before the storms in order to stay safe. It is important to stay informed about what is happening with the storm - flood watches developing into flood warnings. Always follow the instructions of local emergency management officials.
- Take Photos: If you have contents coverage on your flood insurance policy, take photos of clothing, flooring, light fixtures, appliances, furniture, etc. - anything that could be damaged by flooding. Having photos can help with filing insurance claims later.
- Reduce Flooding: Ensure your sump pump is working; install a battery-operated backup in case of power failure. Clear debris from gutters and downspouts. Anchor any fuel tanks. Move furniture, valuables and important documents to a safe place.
- Protect Valuable Documents: Store copies of important documents (such as birth certificates, passports, insurance documents, deeds, etc.) in a safe, dry place. You may also want to photograph these documents and store in as safe place or digitally, too.
- Be Ready to Evacuate: Plan and practice a flood evacuation route. Ask someone out of state to be your family contact in an emergency, and make sure everyone knows the contact's address and phone number.
- Plan for Pets and Animals: Make a pet and animal plan. Many shelters do not allow pets. Make plans now on what to do with your pets if you are required to evacuate your residence.
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
Most common flood insurance policies cover direct physical damage caused by flooding to your building and personal property, also known as contents. These items include:
- Electrical and plumbing systems
- Furnaces, water heaters, heat pumps and sump pumps
- Refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers and microwave ovens
- Foundation walls, anchorage systems and staircases attached to the building
- Detached garage used for limited storage or parking
- Fuel tanks and the fuel in them, solar energy equipment, well water tanks and pumps
- Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture and electronic equipment
- Portable and winter air conditioners
- Washing machines and dryers
What Doesn't Flood Insurance Cover?
While flood insurance covers the structure of your home and its foundation, it does not cover any of the following property items:
- Personal property not inside the fully enclosed building
- Open structures or personal property located in, on or over water
- Recreational vehicles, whether affixed to a permanent foundation or on wheels
- Self-propelled vehicles or machines, including their parts and equipment
- Land, land values, lawns, trees, shrubs, plants, growing crops or animals
- Accounts, bills, money, coins, deeds, medals, stored value (gift) cards, postage stamps, manuscripts or other valuable papers
- Underground structures and equipment, including wells, septic tanks and systems
- Decks, driveways, patios and other surfaces; all weather protected by a roof or not, located outside the perimeter or exterior walls of the insured building
- Fences, retaining walls, seawalls, bulkheads, wharves, piers, bridges and docks
- Hot tubs and spas that are not bathroom fixtures, and swimming pools
Flood Insurance Resources
If flooding was serious enough for you to leave your home, be sure you stay safe upon your return. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warns that you should check for any visible structural damage such as warping, loosened or cracked foundation elements, cracks and holes before entering the home, and contact utility companies if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric and/or sewer lines.
Be careful. In the wake of a damaging storm, such as a tornado or flood, home repair contractors will often go door-to-door to offer roofing, siding and repair services. While the majority of contractors are reputable, there are unscrupulous home repair contractors who prey on consumers who are anxious to get their property and lives back in order.
Take the following steps to ensure an effective repair:
- Immediately contact your insurance carrier if you believe your property sustained damage.
- Request a list of reputable contractors from your insurance carrier, the Better Business Bureau or a specialized organization. BBB - Ohio Directory
- Contact multiple contractors and obtain more than one estimate.
- Do not allow a contractor to inspect your property when you are not home. If you give a contractor permission to inspect your property, watch them conduct the inspection.
- Do not pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all work has been finished.
- Pay contractors by check or credit card, rather than in cash, so you have a record of all payments issued.
- If you feel the settlement offered by your insurer is incomplete or unfair, contact the company and be ready to provide information to support your claim.
- If your home was destroyed beyond repair and you decide to rebuild on a different lot or purchase another home instead of rebuilding, check your insurance policy and discuss with your insurance agent or company representative. There may be limitations on what your insurer will pay for, if you do not rebuild on the same property.
- If you choose to build or rebuild, check with your community's floodplain administrator to learn about your community's flood safety standards. These standards are required for all new floodplain development or substantially damaged/improved structures in the floodplain and can help avoid having your home and property damaged or destroyed by flood again. ODNR Floodplain Management Program
- Your insurance policy provides coverage to repair or replace property you had prior to the storm. It will not pay for improvements.
Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) Coverage
If your home or business is damaged by a flood, you may be required to meet certain building requirements in your community to reduce future flood damage before you repair or rebuild. The NFIP offers Increased Cost of Compliance coverage.
ICC coverage is one of several resources available to flood insurance policyholders who may need additional help rebuilding after a flood. ICC will provide up to $30,000 to help cover the cost of mitigation measures that will reduce flood risk. ICC benefits can also help pay for improvements required for repetitive loss properties.