|What is a "flood"?
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.
However, all floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path. Overland flooding occurs outside a defined river or stream, such as when a levee is breached, but still can be destructive. Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing effects similar to flash floods.
Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds, or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. Every state is at risk from this hazard.
|Does my home insurance cover floods?
Standard home insurance policies do not cover flood damage.
Depending on where your home is located in Massachusetts, you may be able to purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Your producer or company can help you with application forms for flood coverage. If your home is located in a flood plain, your lender will require flood insurance. Just because your home is not in a designated flood plain, don't assume you will never have flood damage. For more information about federal flood insurance, you can contact your insurer or producer or contact the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at 1-800-638-6620 run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
|What should I do following a flood?
The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:
|How can I file a NFIP flood insurance claim?
|What if I have water damage to my home not caused by flooding?
Most home insurance policies generally require you do the following things:
|What if I have questions or problems with my claim?
If you are having a problem with your insurance, you should first check with your licensed producer or with the company that sold you the policy. If you do not get satisfactory answers from the agent or company, contact the Consumer Services Section of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance by telephone during normal business hours at 1-617-521-7777 or by the internet at http://www.mass.gov/doi. When completing a complaint form, make sure you have included detailed information about your insurance problem, including the correct name of the insurance company and a complete and accurate description of any company actions to respond to your complaint.
|Questions and Answers on the NFIP|
|Is it true that only residents of high-flood risk zones need to have flood insurance?
Even if you live in an area that is not flood-prone, it's advisable to have flood insurance. Between 20 percent and 25 percent of the NFIP's claims come from outside high-flood-risk areas. The NFIP's Preferred Risk Policy, available for just over $100 per year, is designed for residential properties located in low- to moderate-flood-risk zones.
|Does the NFIP cover flooding resulting from the overflow of rivers?
The NFIP defines covered flooding as a general and temporary condition during which the surface of normally dry land is partially or completely inundated. Two properties in the area or two or more acres must be affected. Flooding can be caused by:
|Can someone buy insurance immediately before or during a flood?
You can purchase flood coverage at any time. There is a 30-day waiting period after you've applied and paid the premium before the policy is effective, with the following exceptions: 1) If the initial purchase of flood insurance is in connection with the making, increasing, extending or renewing of a loan, there is no waiting period. The coverage becomes effective at the time of the loan, provided application and payment of premium is made at or prior to loan closing. 2) If the initial purchase of flood insurance is made during the 13-month period following the effective date of a revised flood map for a community, there is a one-day waiting period. This only applies where the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is revised to show the building to be in an SFHA when it had not been in an SFHA.
The policy does not cover a "loss in progress,"defined by the NFIP as a loss occurring as of 12:01 a.m. on the first day of the policy term. In addition, you cannot increase the amount of insurance coverage you have during a loss in progress. You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance after your home, apartment or business has been flooded, provided that your community is participating in the NFIP.
|Is flood insurance only available for homeowners?
Flood insurance is available to protect homes, condominiums, apartments and nonresidential buildings, including commercial structures. A maximum of $250,000 of building coverage is available for single-family residential buildings; $250,000 per unit for residential condominiums. The limit for contents coverage on all residential buildings is $100,000, which is also available to renters.BR>
Commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for the contents.
|Does the NFIP offer any type of basement coverage?
Yes it does. The NFIP defines a basement as any area of a building with a floor that is below ground level on all sides. While flood insurance does not cover basement improvements, such as finished walls, floors or ceilings, or personal belongings that may be kept in a basement, such as furniture and other contents, it does cover structural elements, essential equipment and other basic items normally located in a basement. Many of these items are covered under building coverage, and some are covered under contents coverage. The NFIP encourages people to purchase both building and contents coverage for the broadest protection.
The following items are covered under building coverage, as long as they are connected to a power source and installed in their functioning location:
Frequently Asked Questions on Flooding and Insurance