Six misconceptions about flooding and flood insurance

May 10, 2018

People are often reluctant to purchase flood insurance when they live in an area that has never flooded, at least to their knowledge.  However many are not aware of the actual degree of flooding risk in their area.  In addition, they may not be well-informed regarding the reasons why purchasing this coverage is usually wise for most residents in flood-prone regions.

A June 2017 article by describes and “de-bunks” six common misconceptions about flooding and flood insurance.

These are:

  1. To get a policy, you must live in a flood plain
  2. Flood insurance is just for high-risk areas
  3. Flood insurance covers everything
  4. My homeowners policy covers floods
  5. Water damage is water damage
  6. Flood maps don’t change

The following includes a brief summary of these key points.

To get a policy you must live in a flood plain:

Anyone can purchase flood insurance regardless of whether or not their property is in a flood zone.  Historically about 25% of damage claims are for homes not located in flood plains.

Flood insurance is just for high-risk areas:

Flooding is possible in areas outside of zones mapped as high risk due to many possible factors such as clogged storm drains, excess debris in drainage ditches, nearby construction, and ground subsidence.  The potential for loss from flooding damage needs to be weighed against the cost of insurance.

Flood insurance covers everything:

Federal insurance policies cover up to $250,000 for the structure and up to $100,000 for contents.  If you are required to move out during repairs living expenses are not covered.  Additional coverage above the federal limits is available from private insurers.

My homeowner’s policy covers floods:

Homeowners’s policies usually do not cover damage from rising water or water moving across the ground.

Water damage is water damage:

Water entry from a storm-damaged roof is covered.  An additional endorsement for water backing up from causes such as a broken sump pump may be available as an option.

Flood maps don’t change:

Flood zone mapping is continually evolving and it may or may not accurately represent the true flooding risk in a specific area.  If a property was not in a flood zone originally it could be at any point afterward.  The FEMA site listed below summarizes the status of flood zone mapping in the US: