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Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States—and they’re also the most destructive and costly. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that a single inch of floodwater can cause more than $25,000 in damage in an average-sized home.

Flood insurance can reimburse you for damages, helping you fix your home and repair or replace lost belongings.

 

Are floods covered by my homeowner’s insurance?

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. Without additional flood insurance coverage, you’ll need to pay out of your own pocket to repair or replace anything damaged in a flood.

Flood insurance is purchased separately from your homeowners or renters insurance policy.

 

What does flood insurance cover?

Most flood insurance policies may cover:

  • your home’s structure;

  • damaged cabinets, paneling, and built-in bookcases;

  • carpeting and window treatments;

  • your home’s main functional systems, such as its electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning systems;

  • household appliances, such as refrigerators and freezers (and the food within them), stoves, dishwashers, and washing machines;

  • personal belongings including furnishings, electronics, and clothing. Policies often have specific limits for certain valuables, such as art.

 

Flood insurance policies generally do not cover:

  • moisture or mildew damage not caused by a flood;

  • damage that could have been avoided;

  • damage to property located outside of your home, such as trees, decks, and fences;

  • damage to vehicles;

  • additional living expenses, should you need to temporarily relocate while your home is being repaired. (Most AAA homeowners insurance policies offer flood emergency assistance, which pays up to $3,000 for additional living expenses if flood waters force you from your home.)

Do I need flood insurance?

If you live in a high-risk flood area and have previously received federal disaster assistance from FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration, you may be required to purchase flood insurance to be considered for any future federal disaster aid. Your mortgage lender may also require flood insurance.

Even if you don’t live in a flood-prone zone, getting flood insurance is still a wise move. One in five insurance claims come from outside high-risk areas. Floods can happen in inland areas due to an overflowing creek, for example, or water coming down a hillside. According to FEMA, no home is completely safe from the risk of flooding.

If a flood hits your area, you might expect the federal government to swoop in and take care of things. But federal disaster assistance only kicks in if the President declares the flood a federal disaster. Even then, while the government might offer a loan to help repair your home, you’d need to pay it back—with interest. Flood insurance, on the other hand, will pay you outright for flood damage, whether or not the flood is deemed a national disaster.

What options are available for those who require flood insurance?

You can purchase:

  • Government flood insurance issued by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is sold by private insurers—including AAA—across the country. This type of policy determines the value of flood damage based on either the replacement cost value or actual cost value.

    • Replacement cost value (RCV) covers the cost to replace the damaged part of the building. To be eligible, the building must be a single-family dwelling, you must live there at least 80 percent of the year, and your coverage must be at least 80 percent of the full replacement cost of the building.

    • Damaged belongings are always valued at actual cash value (ACV), or the RCV at the time of loss, less the value of its physical depreciation. Some items—such as appliances and carpeting—are adjusted on an ACV basis.

  • Flood insurance sold by the private market, if it’s available in your state. Options include:

    • primary flood insurance, which is similar to government-issued coverage, often with higher levels of protection.

    • excess flood insurance, which offers additional coverage to supplement a primary policy—whether that primary policy is underwritten by the government or a private insurer.

 

What is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)?

Insurance companies offer flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is overseen by FEMA.

NFIP policies provide up to $250,000 in coverage for damage to your home and $100,000 for damage to your personal belongings.

 

What is the average cost of flood insurance?

The average flood insurance policy can cost approximately $700 per year, although the cost depends on where you live. Your monthly premium may be higher if you live close to high-risk flood zones. Your friendly AAA insurance agent can provide more information.

 

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The availability, qualifications, and amounts of coverages, costs and discounts may vary from state to state and there may be coverages and discounts not listed here. In addition, other terms, conditions, and exclusions not described above may apply, and total savings may vary depending on the coverages purchased. For more information regarding your eligibility for certain coverages and savings opportunities, please contact your AAA agent. Insurance products in California offered by AAA Northern California Insurance Agency. License #0175868, in Nevada by AAA Nevada and in Utah by AAA Utah. Insurance provided by CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer.