It’s an unlucky fact: Standard homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies don’t cover damages brought on by flooding.
People who live in flood-prone areas are generally required by their mortgage lenders to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. But if you happen to own your property outright, or rent it, you must do your personal cost-benefit evaluation and choose whether to purchase such coverage.
It could also be too late for residents of New York City and the encircling area to purchase policies to cover damages brought on by the torrential rains that flooded the region on Friday, but more people will probably want to consider getting such policies for his or her future protection: 1 / 4 of flood claims arise from properties which can be outside high-risk areas, in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but most householders in those areas are eligible for lower rates.
Most flood policies within the United States are issued through the federal National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by the emergency management agency, although coverage can be available in certain areas from private insurers, like Lloyd’s of London. (For more details, read my colleague Ann Carrns’s piece on flood insurance.)
Consumers can purchase enough coverage to enable them to exchange their assets within the event of a complete loss, in response to the advocacy group United Policyholders. But the national program has relatively low coverage limits: $250,000 for a residential constructing, and $100,000 for its contents (which can be available to renters).
Private flood policies can offer much higher coverage limits, in addition to extra advantages, like “lack of use,” which pays lodging costs in case your property is uninhabitable. But private insurers don’t must offer any coverage in the event that they deem a location too dangerous. And even in the event that they extend coverage, it might be pricey. They may also determine to not renew a policy after a house experiences a flood.
If you’re thinking about buying coverage through the national program, you will have to attend: A shutdown of the federal government, which could occur Sunday morning, could cause this system to expire of cash until Congress reaches an agreement to maintain the federal government funded.