In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the nation is going to hear a lot about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which expires on September 30, 2017.  It is estimated that only 2 in 10 properties flooded by Harvey had flood insurance.  About 1.2 million properties in the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown area are at high/moderate risk of flooding but are not in a designated flood zone requiring insurance.  In other words, these properties are outside the 100-year floodplain.

One of FIRM’s Flood Insurance Legislative Priorities is to encourage NFIP participation with low-cost preferred risk policies outside the 100-year floodplain and greater enforcement of participation inside the 100-year floodplain.  This would not only help to shore up the struggling NFIP, but it would protect homeowners like the ones in Texas and others who have experienced unprecedented flooding in the last several years.

So what does flood insurance cover?  Listed below are the types of things that flood insurance will and will not cover.  This list is intended to be a general aid to consumers and is not meant to be a substitute for formal legal or regulatory advice provided by attorneys or insurance agents, or to advise on any individual choice or claim.

Flood insurance covers both the building and contents inside, but it doesn’t cover the land the dwelling is located on.  There may be limited coverage for basements, crawlspaces, lower floors and enclosed floors of elevated buildings.  Dwelling coverage will cover property up to $250,000 and contents coverage insurance up to $100,000 of personal property.  Flood insurance is not a valued policy and does not pay more than the policy limit for any losses.

Building coverage includes:

  • The building and its foundation.
  • The electrical and plumbing systems.
  • Major systems like central air conditioning equipment, furnaces, and the water heater.
  • Some appliances such as refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances like dishwashers.
  • Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor (e.g. wood, cement).
  • Window blinds.
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases and cabinets.
  • A detached garage (up to 10% of building property coverage).

Coverage for contents includes:

  • Clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment.
  • Curtains.
  • Portable and window air conditioners.
  • Portable appliances such as microwaves and dishwashers.
  • Carpeting that is not covered under the building coverage.
  • Clothes washers and dryers.
  • Food freezers and the food in them.
  • Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)

There are a number of damages and expenses a flood insurance policy will NOT cover.  These include:

  • Currency, precious metals and valuable papers like stock certificates.
  • Damage caused by moisture, mildew or mold that could have been prevented by the homeowner or renter.
  • Property and items outside of the dwelling such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walkways, decks, patios, fences, hot tubs, seawalls and swimming pools.
  • Financial losses due to business interruption or loss of use of the insured property.
  • Most self-propelled vehicles (e.g. cars, motorcycles, four-wheelers, etc.)
  • Damage from sewer backups.

Please contact your local insurance professional to learn how best to protect your home and your property from flood damage.

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