The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the federal program that insures home and property owners who live in certain flood-prone areas. A federal program was necessary because private insurers were unwilling to insure the flood-prone areas for affordable premiums.
Unfortunately, the NFIP expired in 2017, and although the US House has passed legislation that would modernize the program, the Senate has not taken up the legislation, resulting in the passage of stop-gap continuation bills instead of a full-scale reassessment of the program.
“The NFIP’s coverage mandate is to provide insurance coverage to businesses and homeowners that live in a community that participates in the NFIP,” said Charles E. Boyk, an Ohio Insurance Attorney with Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC. “The purpose in requiring communities to participate is to ensure that those communities are properly analyzing floodplains and taking the steps necessary to reduce exposure of homes and businesses to flooding.”
Flood insurance through NFIP is not available unless a community participates. Homeowners may or may not know that most standard home insurance policies do not cover flooding.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the NFIP. Flood insurance purchased through this program provides coverage and payment regardless of whether there is a Presidential declaration of emergency.
“This is important,” said Boyk, “because there are thousands of individuals affected by flooding each year that never get national news coverage, let alone rise to the level of needing a disaster declaration.”
If your homeowner’s insurance claims to cover flooding, read the policy carefully and consult with your insurance agent. There may be limitations or requirements on or for payment of claims.
Additionally, flood insurance – even if purchased though the NFIP – will only cover the structure and land. The contents of your home need to be covered by a separate policy. Also, make note of your deductible and how much it is.
Other things to know:
- Flood insurance through NFIP pays only to the policy limit. Many home insurance policies are “guaranteed replacement cost” policies, meaning they will pay more than the policy limit if it costs more than that to rebuild the home. Flood insurance does not have that option.
- Flood insurance through NFIP is only available through an insurance agent.
If you are trying to file a claim on a policy, the insurance company may try to avoid paying the full amounts of coverage. Having competent legal representation can help smooth out the process, or at the very least provide a buffer between you and the insurance company.