5 Things Homebuyers Should Know About Flood Insurance
Wherever in the western United States your home is located, it’s likely to be in a flood zone. That’s because flood zones are everywhere. In fact, almost 41 million Americans live in flood zones, according to a study published in the Environmental Research Letter.
In 2017 alone the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid more than $8 billion to flood insurance policyholders in 2017 alone. Imagine how much more property, structures and possessions were lost and not replaced because the homeowners didn’t have flood insurance!
If you’re a homeowner, or anticipating buying a home soon, here are five important things should know before buying in a flood zone.
- You might be required to get flood insurance.
Flood coverage is always separate from standard homeowners insurance. Those who live in high-risk flood zones, designated on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) are usually required by their mortgage lenders to purchase flood insurance.
For instance, if you don’t have a flood policy, and your home is damaged by precipitation, it’s likely you won’t be covered by your homowners policy. When it comes to water damage, most homeowners policies will cover water damage from a burst pipe, but not heavy rain, rising rivers or a natural disaster.
- The NIFP may be on soggy ground.
The NFIP helps offset insurance costs for homeowners who are required to purchase flood insurance. Coverage can be expensive for people in high-risk zones, especially since insurance costs are steadily rising. The average annual amount for a flood policy, including surcharges, is more than $1,000.
- If you’re not in a flood zone, you’ll pay less for insurance.
Even if you’re not required to get flood insurance by your lender, you still might want to consider it. For homes that are near high-risk areas, insurance could make a big difference. Flood insurance can be a bargain when potential loss is taken into account. A single foot of water in an average home can cause $72,000 worth of damage.
Flood insurance rates are based on several factors, according to the NFIP, including:
- Year of building construction
- Building occupancy
- Number of floors
- Location of its contents
- Flood zone type
- Location of the lowest floor in relation to the base flood elevation on FEMA flood map
- Deductible and amount of building and contents coverage
- To understand the flood risk, ask before you buy.
Wherever it rains, it can flood. Before buying a home in a flood zone, you should factor how much risk you’ll be assuming. Flood zone information is usually in the MLS listing. Drainage or flooding problems must be disclosed. Sellers are obligated to disclose information related to flooding, such as whether or not the property flooded before.
People who are in the highest-risk areas will pay more for insurance, so this is something to consider when house hunting. Buyers should talk to their lenders about any contingencies associated with buying in a flood zone.
- Investigate flood-proofing retrofitting costs and repairs.
If you love a particular property, you can make modifications to reduce flood damage with major structural changes or small tweaks, from putting the structure on stilts to adding concrete blocks under your water heater.
Depending on your prospective home’s level of risk, small changes can make a big difference. A rule of thumb is to make sure water is flowing away from the home, not gathering in pools.
For example, make sure downspouts are facing away from the structure. Gutter runoff should not collect near the house, which could eventually cause leaks.
Be prepared. You can follow these suggestions and still suffer water damage. Make sure your homeowners or renters insurance covers you when a water disaster strikes your home.
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Content provided by Bankrate.com