Flood Insurance

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What is Flood Insurance?

Flood Insurance is one of the few insurance policies that is designed to protect you from a very specific type of risk and yet has a large population to cater to. Though there are specific topographic zones that are marked prone to flooding, any place that gets a considerable amount of rainfall can get flooded due to various natural and man-made reasons.

Definition

Flood Insurance is a policy specifically designed to protect real estate from floods and the damages caused by water. The flood can be triggered by a number of reasons, such as: natural topographical conditions, sudden change in rainfall pattern due to local or environmental activities, a flooding river, hurricanes, accumulation of broken leaves, blockage of drains and other natural waterways, etc.

Types

In general, flood insurance policies are marketed by local agents and agencies working for the ‘National Flood Insurance Program’ (NFIP) and also by private insurance companies using the Write Your Own policies method. The contracts vary depending on the extent of risk coverage they offer to customers:

  • Coverage for Standard Flood Insurance
    Offered by both NFIP and private insurers, these policies cover the house and its contents from flood damages through separate coverage if applied.
  • Coverage for Preferred risks
    These are also offered by both NFIP and the private insurers. The coverage is generally limited to specific types and extents of damages. It is offered to people in less flood-prone areas, mostly.
  • Coverage for Flood Insurance with different limits based on the customer’s specific risk profile:
    These are offered by the private insurer mostly. A few examples of the categories are:

Customized insurance coverage

Broader coverage offered than the Standard Flood Insurance policies.

Flexible insurance coverage

Covers damages by an actual flood and/or other water damages that may not have the direct result of a flooding.

Supplemental coverage

This provides extra protection over an existing flood coverage policy (say a standard coverage) and is designed to protect the high-value assets of the customers, such as jewelry, expensive art collectibles etc.

Importance

A few inches of water inside a house can cause severe damage and have a considerable, if not huge, financial impact for a household. The commercial properties are at an even bigger risk from flood, as the contents inside the building are almost always a basic requirement for the sustenance of the business itself. Stagnant water from a flood or accumulation of mud inside the building can cause damages to the building’s structure, seep into its foundation and walls causing damages in the future. The damage to the contents inside the house vary. Electronic items can go beyond recovery due to water damage. Food, clothes, important papers and other perishable items would be damaged in days. In a nutshell, leaving a house and its contents unprotected in a flood-prone area may only lead to a much bigger financial cavity than paying the required premiums would be to a private or commercial homeowner.

Points to note

Waiting Period: Many flood insurance policies include a provision for a 30 day waiting period. Buying a policy right before the onslaught of a storm forecasted within days or while the nearby areas are already flooded may not be beneficial to the policy-owner at all.