For the first time in 50 years, private insurers are entering the flood insurance market, bringing more choices to consumers. Insurance companies are being allowed into the market at the same time Congress is debating the extension of the national Flood Insurance Program, which insures 5 million homes across the United States.
The National Association of Realtors has urged Congress to allow the program to continue, because a lapse could put many homeowners at risk and delay closings of properties that require coverage.
Here are five things you need to know about flood insurance as the debate rages on:
The Insurance Information Institute recommends having enough coverage to rebuild your home at today’s rates, should it get destroyed by a natural disaster. Most homeowners’ policies don’t cover flooding.
If you are required to have it, the expense will depend on how steep your risk is. All federally insured loans – which most home loans are – require homeowners to carry flood insurance if the property falls within certain zones.
You can check FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center if you’re curious whether your home might be in a flood zone, although these maps aren’t always up to date. Experts recommend asking your lender or insurance agent for a flood certificate – a document that provides exact flood zone information for your particular piece of property, including any dates it was re-mapped, previous flood zones and more.
Federal disaster assistance is only available if a disaster is declared by the federal government and usually has to be paid back. Flood insurance covers losses even if there is no declaration.
What’s covered by NFIP? Up to $250,000 in structural damage and up to $100,000 for belongings.
If you have questions about any kind of insurance, you can get a quote or ask a question at Long & Foster Insurance, or call 1-866-275-4534.