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Flood Insurance FAQ

Flood insurance can be purchased by different methods. The most common are listed below with corresponding information regarding how it’s regulated.

  • Some Commercial property contracts which include coverage for flood are underwritten by licensed insurers in the State of Florida. In this case, the policy falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Financial Services unless the contract is issued by a Surplus Lines Carrier. Insureds needing assistance with a policy issued according to this paragraph, should call us at 1-877-693-5236.

  • A Mobile Home Package policy normally includes coverage for flood. If so, the coverage is underwritten by the same carrier as the other coverage and claims will be handled by that carrier or a person so designated. In this case, the policy falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Financial Services and requests for assistance should be directed to us at 1-877-693-5236.

  • Other residential and commercial flood policies are issued by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), either directly or through a Write Your Own Carrier. The Write Your Own carriers are licensed in the State of Florida. However, the policies fall within the jurisdiction of the National Flood Insurance Program. The Write Your Own carrier must follow all guidelines of the NFIP relating to all coverage, underwriting, premiums and claims. You can report your claim to the agent you secured your policy with. You can contact the NFIP at (888) 379-9531 or visit NFIP’S Direct Servicing Agent to report a claim. You can get answers to general inquiries about flood insurance by calling the NFIP Help Center at 1-800-427-4661, contact Ask the Expert by email at floodsmart@fema.dhs.gov, and after using the above resources or others available to you (i.e. insurance agent, insurance company, etc.), you still need help and answers, please email the Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate (OFIA) at Insurance-Advocate@fema.dhs.gov


The questions and answers given below apply specifically to policies falling within the jurisdiction of the NFIP.
If you have additional questions that need to be added to this list or if you find any errors, please send them to the Division of Consumer Services, Bureau of Education, Advocacy and Research, 200 East Gaines Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-4212.
If I purchase a flood insurance policy today, when will it be effective?

There is normally a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect. There are two basic exceptions:

  • If the initial purchase of flood insurance is in connection with the making, increasing, extending, or renewing of a loan, there is no waiting period. The coverage becomes effective at the time of the loan, provided the application and presentment of premium are made at or prior to loan closing.
  • If the initial purchase of flood insurance is made during the 13-month period following the revision or update of a Flood Insurance Rate Map for the community, there is a 1-day waiting period.

In addition to the two basic exceptions, FEMA has issued a policy decision specifying the following four exceptions:

  • The 30-day waiting period will not apply when there is an existing insurance policy and an additional amount of flood insurance is required in connection with the making, increasing, extending, or renewing of a loan, such as a second mortgage, home equity loan, or refinancing. The increased amount of flood coverage will be effective as of the time of the loan closing, provided the increased amount of coverage is applied for and the presentment of additional premium is made at or prior to the loan closing.
  • The 30-day waiting period will not apply when an additional amount of insurance is required as a result of a map revision. The increased amount of coverage will be effective at 12:01 a.m. on the first calendar day after the date the increased amount of coverage is applied for and the presentment of additional premium is made.
  • The 30-day waiting period will not apply when flood insurance is required as a result of a lender’s determining a loan that does not have flood insurance coverage should be protected by flood insurance. The coverage will be effective upon the completion of an application and the presentment of payment of premium.
  • The 30-day waiting period will not apply when an additional amount of insurance offered in the renewal bill is being obtained in connection with the renewal of a policy.
What flood losses are covered?

The Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) Forms contain complete definitions of the coverages they provide. Direct physical losses by “flood” are covered. Also covered are losses resulting from flood-related erosion caused by waves or currents of water activity exceeding anticipated cyclical levels, or caused by a severe storm, flash flood, abnormal tidal surge, or the like, which result in flooding, as defined. Damage caused by mudflows, as specifically defined in the policy forms, is covered.

What losses are not covered by flood insurance?
  • Additional Living Expense (i.e. ALE) coverage is not included as part of flood insurance.
  • Sewer backup or seepage of water is not covered unless the property is, at the same time, damaged by flood.
  • Water or moisture damage resulting from a condition primarily confined to the insured building.
  • Losses caused by the insured’s failure to use reasonable means to preserve property after a flood.
  • A loss already in progress at the time a policy goes into effect.
  • A loss caused by off premises power failure.
What is covered under the Building Coverage?

The following is insured under Building Property coverage :

  • The insured building and its foundation
  • The electrical and plumbing systems
  • Central air conditioning equipment, furnaces, and water heaters
  • Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances such as dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets
  • Window blinds
  • Detached garages (up to 10 percent of Building Property Coverage).Detached buildings (other than garages) require a separate Building Property policy
  • Debris removal
What is covered under Personal Property Coverage?
  • Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment.
  • Curtains.
  • Portable and window air conditioners.
  • Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers.
  • Carpets not included in building coverage
  • Clothes washers and dryers.
  • Food freezers and the food in them.
  • Certain valuable items such as:
    • artwork, photographs, collectibles, or
    • memorabilia, including but not limited to, porcelain or other figures, and sports cards;
    • Rare books or autographed items;
    • Jewelry, watches, precious and semiprecious stones, or articles of gold, silver, or platinum;
    • Furs or any article containing fur which represents its principal value.

(These valuable items carry an aggregate limit of $2,500.)

What types of property are not covered?
  • Accounts, bills, deeds, evidences of debt, money, coins, postage stamps, manuscripts, etc.
  • Fences, piers, seawalls, outdoor swimming pools, bulkheads, wharves, bridges, docks, boat houses on or over water.
  • Land values, lawns, trees, shrubs, plants, growing crops, livestock, animals, birds, fish.
  • Walks, driveways, and paved surfaces outside building foundation walls.
  • Motor vehicles (with exceptions), aircraft, watercraft.

In addition, there are very important exclusions regarding contents and machinery, equipment, fixtures, etc. located at an elevation lower than the lowest elevated floor of a building.

If I purchased coverage for both my building and contents, how many deductibles must I pay if both are damaged?

Two, each coverage deductible will apply.

What coverage is available in basements and in enclosed areas beneath the lowest elevated floor of an elevated building?

Coverage is provided for foundation elements, including posts, pilings, piers, or other support systems for elevated buildings. Coverage also is available for basement and enclosure utility connections, certain mechanical equipment necessary for the habitability of the building, such as furnaces, hot water heaters, clothes washers and dryers, food freezers and the food in them, air conditioners, heat pumps, electrical junctions, and circuit breaker boxes. Finished structural elements such as paneling and linoleum, and contents items such as rugs and furniture are not covered. Visit the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website for a Summary of Coverage.

Are losses from land subsidence, sewer backup, or seepage of water covered?

Under certain circumstances. Subsidence of land along a lake shore or similar body of water which results from the erosion or undermining of the shoreline caused by waves or currents of water exceeding cyclical levels that result in a flood is covered. All other land subsidence is excluded. We do not insure for direct physical loss caused directly or indirectly by any of the following:

  • Backups through sewers or drains;
  • Discharges or overflows from a sump, sump pump, or related equipment;
  • Seepage or leaks on or through the covered property; unless there is a general condition of flooding in the area and the flood is the proximate cause of the sewer or drain backup, sump pump discharge or overflow, or seepage of water.
Does flood insurance through the NFIP provide coverage at replacement cost?

Only for single-family dwellings and residential condominium buildings, if several criteria are met. Replacement cost coverage is available for a single-family dwelling, including a residential condominium unit that is the policyholder’s principal residence and is insured for at least 80 percent of the unit’s replacement cost at the time of the loss, up to the maximum amount of insurance available at the inception of the policy term. Replacement cost coverage does not apply to manufactured (i.e., mobile) homes smaller than certain dimensions specified in the policy. Losses are adjusted on a replacement cost basis for residential condominium buildings insured under the Residential Condominium Building Association Policy (RCBAP). The principal residence and the 80 percent insurance to value requirements for single-family dwellings do not apply to the RCBAP. However, coverage amounts less than 80 percent of the building’s full replacement cost value at the time of loss will be subject to a co-insurance penalty.

Contents losses are always adjusted on an actual cash value basis. If the replacement cost conditions are not met, the building loss is also adjusted on an actual cash value basis. Actual cash value means the replacement cost of an insured item of property at the time of loss, less the value of physical depreciation as to the item damaged.

Does the Standard Flood Insurance Policy provide additional living expenses, if the insured dwelling is flood damaged and cannot be occupied while repairs are being made?

No. The policy only covers direct physical flood damage to the dwelling and does not provide additional living expenses.

What is Increased Cost of Compliance coverage?

Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) provides for the payment of a claim to help pay for the cost to comply with State or community floodplain management laws or ordinances from a flood event in which a building has been declared substantially damaged or repetitively damaged. When an insured building is damaged by a flood and the State or community declares the building to be substantially damaged or repetitively damaged, ICC coverage will help pay for the cost to elevate, floodproof, demolish, or relocate the building up to a maximum benefit of $30,000. This coverage is in addition to the building coverage for the repair of actual physical damages from flood under the SFIP.

How does a policyholder file a claim for flood loss?

A flood insurance policyholder should immediately report any flood loss to the insurance company or agent who wrote the policy. A claims adjuster will be assigned the loss, and the policyholder must file a “proof of loss” within 60 days of the date of loss. You can contact the NFIP at (888) 379-9531 or visit NFIP’S Direct Servicing Agent to report a claim.

What is a “proof of loss”?

A proof of loss-the policyholder’s valuation of claimed damages - is a sworn statement made by the policyholder that substantiates the insurance claim and is required to be submitted to the NFIP or WYO company within 60 days of the loss. A printed form usually is available from the adjuster assigned to the claim.

For additional information about flood claims see:

To review a Summary of Flood Coverage see NFIP Summary of Coverage

For additional answers about the NFIP see: Answers to Questions About the NFIP