skip to main content

What Is Flood Insurance And What Is Covered?

what is flood insurance coverage in Massachusetts

A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties from:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters;
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;
  • Mudflows – rivers of liquid and flowing mud on the surface of normally dry land, often caused by a combination of brush loss and subsequent heavy rains.

Where can flood waters originate from?

  • Oceans
  • Rivers
  • Streams
  • Lakes
  • Rainstorm
  • Snowmelt
  • Hydrants
  • Water trucks
  • Overflowing swimming pools
  • Water towers
  • Golf course irrigation ponds

What are the chances of a flood?

There is a 26% chance of flooding over a 30-year mortgage if a property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (Zones A or V). In addition, 25% of flood losses happen annually in non-SFHA areas. So even if you are not required to buy flood insurance, you should definitely consider it. Without insurance, disaster relief from floods mostly takes the form of federal government’s low-interest loans that must be paid back. Purchasing a flood insurance policy is the only way to get full protection from flood-related costs. The average cost of a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is $700 per year.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) flood zones:

Flood zones are geographic areas that FEMA has defined according to varying levels of flood risk. These zones are depicted on a community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Hazard Boundary Map and reflect the severity or type of flooding in the area.

SFHA (Special Flood Hazard Area) is an area having special flood/mudflow and/or flood-related erosion hazards. SFHAs are labeled as Zone A or V. A Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA) is an area that is in a moderate- to low-risk flood zone (Zones B, C, D, and X).

What is an Elevation Certificate?

If a home or business is in a high-risk area, you will likely need an Elevation Certificate (EC) to determine your flood insurance premium. This certificate verifies your building’s elevation compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach during a major flood in a high-risk flood area. ECs are not required and are not used for rating in moderate- to low-risk areas.

Where to get an Elevation Certificate?

  • Ask your local floodplain manager. Every NFIP participating community has a floodplain manager
  • Ask the prior owner of your property
  • Ask the developer or builder. In high-risk areas, the developer or builder might have been required to get an EC at the time of construction
  • Check the property deed. ECs sometimes are included with the property deed
  • Hire a licensed land surveyor, professional engineer, or certified architect who is authorized by law to certify elevation information

Why do you need Flood Insurance?

  • Flood coverage is excluded by most property policies
  • It is required by lending institutions if the property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA- A & V zones)
  • Peace of mind

3 Policies to choose from:

  • Dwelling form for Residential exposures (1-4 family homeowner, tenants in apartment, residential condo unit)
  • General property form for Commercial exposures (5 or more family residential building, any business, commercial condo building)
  • Residential Condominium Building Association Policy for residential condos associations (residential condo building and common contents)

Coverage limits available from the NFIP:

A residential home can be insured for up to $250k and personal property for up to $100k (up to $100k for contents if you are a renter). For non-residential property or more than a 5-family house, there is $500k of coverage available for the building and contents.

Flood insurance comes with a separate deductible for the building and its contents (min $1k, max $50k). However, if there is a mortgage, the lender may not allow you to increase the deductible beyond specific limits.

30-day waiting period:

Flood insurance doesn’t kick in immediately – there is 30 day waiting period in most cases. This prevents a homeowner from buying a policy as a storm comes their way. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • If your address was newly-added to the SFHA map and you buy flood insurance within the 13-month period following a map revision.
  • If you're renewing your flood policy and increase your coverage.
  • If you just bought a house and your lender requires flood coverage.

What’s covered?

  • Essential systems in the home. Electrical and plumbing systems, furnaces, water heaters, central air conditioners, heat pumps, and sump pumps. It also includes cisterns and the water in them, fuel tanks and the fuel in them, solar energy equipment, water tanks, and pumps.
  • Appliances. Refrigerators, and built-in appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers. Portable window air conditioners, freezers and the food in them.
  • Carpeting and window treatments - permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor, or any other kinds of carpets over wooden floors, window blinds and curtains.
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets
  • Foundation walls, staircases attached to the building
  • A detached garage, used for limited storage or parking - up to 10% of main building coverage is available, however, that amount will be subtracted from the total amount of building coverage provided.
  • Personal property. This includes clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment—though only if they’re not stored in the basement.
  • Certain valuables. The policy is likely to cover items such as original artwork, jewelry and furs, up to $2,500 in value for any one loss.
  • Other coverage. Some events are covered even if they’re not strictly floods. These would include a neighbor’s above-ground swimming pool collapsing causing the water to flow into your home, or a water main break that damages your home and at least one other in your neighborhood. However, damage caused by a sewer backup is covered only if it’s a direct result of flooding.

What's Not Covered?

  • Damage caused by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner or which is not attributable to the flood
  • Damage caused by earth movement, even if the earth movement is caused by flood
  • Additional living expenses, such as temporary housing, while the building is being repaired
  • Loss of use or access to the insured property
  • Financial losses caused by business interruption
  • Property and belongings outside of an insured building, such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walkways, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs, and swimming pools
  • Currency, precious metals, and valuable papers such as stock certificates
  • Most self-propelled vehicles, such as cars and including their parts
  • Basement improvements/personal belongings kept in basement (exceptions: furnace, hot water heater, circuit breakers – home foundation elements and equipment that are necessary to support the structure; washer/dryer, freezer with the food in it).

Loss settlement methods:

In order to be eligible to receive replacement cost value, three conditions must be met:
  • The property must be a single-family dwelling;
  • The property must be the principal residence at the time of loss, meaning you live there 80 percent of the year or more;
  • The amount of building coverage purchased must be at least 80 percent of the full replacement cost of your home, or be the maximum amount of insurance available for the property under NFIP.

Some items such as appliances and carpeting are always adjusted at actual cash value. Personal property is always adjusted at actual cash value.

What is Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage?

ICC coverage provides payment to help cover the cost of mitigation activities that will reduce the risk of future flood damage to a building. When a building covered by a Standard Flood Insurance Policy suffers a flood loss and is declared to be substantially or repetitively damaged, ICC will pay up to $30,000 to bring the building into compliance with State or community floodplain management laws or ordinances. Usually, this means elevating or relocating the building so that it is above the base flood elevation (BFE). Non-residential structures may also be floodproofed. ICC coverage applies solely to buildings and only covers the cost of the compliance measures undertaken. It is filed separately from normal flood insurance claim.

Damages exceeding policy limits:

Excess flood insurance can be purchased from private insurers. Such policies can provide up to several million dollars of extra coverage. Policyholders must first purchase NFIP coverage before they can buy the extra coverage. Private flood insurance is another option. Private flood insurance policies offer much higher limits (often writing coverage up to $2 million with personal property coverage of $1 million). They also often do cover additional living expenses, basement/belongings in the basement, offers replacement value coverage for the building, personal property, and has no -2 acres / 2 properties coverage definition. Private flood insurance can provide coverage for outdoor property, detached structures, swimming pools, and basements.

Summary:

When most people think of a flood, they might think of events like Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Sandy. These were huge devastating storms that caused billions of dollars in damage.

In reality, most floods are caused by far less catastrophic situations. In fact, it only takes a few inches of standing water to cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage.

If you’re looking for flood insurance we’ve got you covered. Did you know that every single house in the entire country is in a FEMA flood zone? It’s just that some flood zones are worse (or far worse) than others.

In most situations, you will have a 30-day waiting period when you buy flood insurance, so don’t wait until it’s too late!

We would love to answer any questions that you might have. Contact Kovalev Insurance today and request a complimentary consultation to ensure your property is properly protected.

Our Insurance Carriers