Flood Insurance can be purchased from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through local agents, agencies, and Write Your Own insurance companies. It can also be purchased from the private market through admitted and surplus lines carriers. It can be added to a homeowner’s policy by endorsement or provided by a stand-alone policy. The National Flood Insurance Program falls under the Federal Insurance Administration which is a part of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
The definition of a flood is the same regardless of how you are insured. “Flood” means a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land areas or two or more properties, at least one of which is the policyholder’s property, from;
Overflow of inland or tidal waters,
The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source,
Mud slides, (i.e. mud flows) which are proximately caused by flood, as defined above, and are akin to a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surface of normally dry land areas, as when earth is carried by a current of water and deposited along the path of the current, and
The collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or other body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding the cyclical levels which result in flood, as defined above.
Flooding must cover at least 2 acres of land OR must occur on two premises. For example, flood water in the neighbor’s yard or flood water in the public street meets the requirement for flooding under the policy. Flooding just one property is not considered to be a covered flood under a NFIP policy unless the area of water displacement is at least two acres.
Additional information about Flood Insurance may be obtained at http://www.floodsmart.gov/ and http://www.floir.com/Sections/PandC/FloodInsurance/FloodInsurance.aspx, or by calling the NFIP Help Center at 1-800-427-4661.
Different types of policies are available based on your property’s location and flood history:
National Flood Insurance Program Policy Type
Standard Flood Insurance Policies: If you live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), your building and its contents can be covered. You must apply for building coverage and contents coverage separately.
Preferred Risk Policies: If your home or business is in a low or moderate risk zone, your building may qualify for a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy.
Additional information may be obtained at http://www.floodsmart.gov/, or by calling the NFIP Help Center at 1-800-427-4661.
Private Market Flood Insurance Policy Types
Standard Flood Insurance: Standard flood insurance policies issued by the private market must provide the same coverage, including deductibles and adjustment of losses as the standard flood insurance policy under the National Flood Insurance Program.
Preferred Flood Insurance: Preferred flood insurance policies issued by the private market must include the same coverage as provided under standard flood insurance but:
It must include, within the definition of “flood,” losses from water intrusion originating from outside the structure that are not otherwise covered under the definition of “flood”.
Include coverage for additional living expenses.
Require that any loss under personal property or contents coverage that is repaired or replaced be adjusted only on the basis of replacement costs up to the policy limits.
Customized Flood Insurance: Customized flood insurance policies issued by the private market must include coverage that is broader than the coverage provided under standard flood insurance.
Flexible Flood Insurance: Flexible flood insurance policies issued by the private market must cover losses from the peril of flood and may also include coverage for losses from water intrusion originating from outside the structure which is not otherwise covered by the definition of flood. Flexible flood insurance must include one or more of the following provisions:
An agreement between the insurer and the insured that the flood coverage is in a specified amount, such as coverage that is limited to the total amount of each outstanding mortgage applicable to the covered property.
A requirement for a deductible in an amount authorized under s. 627.701, including a deductible in an amount authorized for hurricanes.
A requirement that flood loss to a dwelling be adjusted in accordance with s. 627.7011(3), or adjusted only on the basis of the actual cash value of the property.
A restriction limiting flood coverage to the principal building defined in the policy.
A provision including or excluding coverage for additional living expense.
A provision excluding coverage for personal property or contents as to the peril of flood.
Supplemental Flood Insurance: Supplemental flood insurance policies issued by the private market may provide coverage designed to supplement a flood policy obtained from the National Flood Insurance Program or from an insurer issuing standard or preferred flood insurance policies described above. Supplemental flood insurance may provide, but need not be limited to, coverage for jewelry, art, deductibles, and additional living expenses.
Regardless of the type of flood policy you purchase, there is generally a standard 30-day waiting period, from the date of purchase, before a new flood policy goes into effect. The 30-day waiting period does not apply if:
The initial purchase of flood insurance occurs in connection with the making, increasing, extension, or renewal of a loan regardless of the zone and regardless of whether the lender requires the coverage; or
The initial purchase of flood insurance occurs within 13-months of a map change in which case a one-day wait applies.
Additional information may be obtained at https://www.floodsmart.gov/, or by calling the NFIP Help Center at 1-800-427-4661.
A community must apply for admittance to the Flood Program, and request a study of the area’s flood potential. This study results in a Flood Hazard Boundary Map being developed, and limited coverage amounts become available. At this point of the process, the community is said to be in the Emergency Program.
A more detailed study of the community then is completed, resulting in the publishing of a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). This will make higher limits of coverage available, but only if the community agrees to pass ordinances (building construction codes, zoning, etc.) designed to lessen or eliminate future flooding. When these requirements are met, the community is said to be in the Regular Program.
Eligible Building: A structure with two or more outside walls and a fully secured roof, located on a permanent site, with 50% or more of the value above ground level. It must be located in a eligible community.
Eligible Contents: Must be located in a fully enclosed building or secured to prevent floatation out of the building. Certain specific property in basements and under elevated floors of buildings is excluded from coverage.
Please note: There are some structures and contents excluded from coverage. There are also limitations on some personal property.
Additional information may be obtained at https://www.floodsmart.gov/, or by calling the NFIP Help Center at 1-800-427-4661.
Florida residents with a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy must file a “Notice of Flood Loss” with their flood insurance company promptly. Or you may file your claim by visiting the NFIP website and following the outlined steps.
All policyholders with a flood loss are also required to submit a “Proof of Loss” (www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/9343) directly to the flood insurance company, within 60 days after the date of the flood loss.
Here are some tips to guide you through the flood insurance claims process to ensure you receive all eligible insurance funds for your recovery.
What to Do Before an Adjuster Visits
Take pictures of the damage.
Write down a list of your damaged contents.
Immediately dispose of flood-damaged items which pose a health risk, such as perishable food items, clothing, cushions and pillows. Cut off and keep a 12-square-inch sample of building materials like carpets and drywall to show your flood adjuster, and set aside other damaged personal property items like furniture, televisions and electronics.
Have documents related to your damage ready for inspection. This may include contractor’s estimates and repair receipts.
Also keep your policy number and insurance company information handy.
What Happens During an Adjuster’s Visit
An insurance adjuster will contact you within 24 to 48 hours to schedule an appointment.
Ask to see the adjuster’s official identification when he or she visits.
The adjuster will take measurements and photographs and document your damage. They will provide you with their contact information and, if required, the adjuster may revisit your property.
After your home is inspected, the adjuster will complete the covered estimate of loss and provide you with a copy of it, along with a Proof of Loss form.
A FEMA inspector or flood insurance adjuster will never ask for money, approve or disapprove claims, or tell you whether your flood insurance company will approve your claim.
What Happens After an Adjuster’s Visit
The adjuster will collect all of the necessary information and documentation during the initial visit and will contact the policyholder as the claim progresses to an agreement and closure.
If you disagree with the resolution of your claim, ask the adjuster to show how they arrived at the figure(s) and explain the policy if an item was excluded from coverage, even though you feel it should be covered.
If the adjuster and insured are unable to come to an amicable agreement, the policyholder may hire an independent contractor to prepare an estimate for flood related damage.
Within 60 days after the loss, send the insurer a signed and sworn to proof of loss.
Flood claims fall under the jurisdiction of FEMA. Therefore, disputes are not eligible for the Residential Property Mediation Program with the Department of Financial Services. An appeal can be filed with FEMA. Your flood insurance policy should outline the process to file an appeal. In addition, the process is outlined in the NFIP Flood Insurance Claims Handbook. This can be viewed at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/6659. You should be sure to document your attempts to settle the claim with the adjuster.
If you still disagree, you may explore other options. These options are only available for policyholders who have received a denial letter.
The NFIP Help Center can answer general inquiries about flood insurance, call 1-800-427-4661. You may also contact Ask the Expert by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If after using the above resources or others available to you (i.e. insurance agent, insurance company, etc.), you still need help and answers, please contact The Advocate’s Office for assistance.
The sale of flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program is subject to the rules and regulations of the Federal Insurance Administration.
The Federal Insurance Administration allows state-licensed insurance companies', agents, and brokers to sell flood insurance. The State of Florida holds these companies', agents and brokers accountable for providing flood insurance customers with the same standards and level of service required of them when selling other lines of insurance.
The coverage provided by the flood insurance policy, claims handling, and the price of the policy is subject to the rules and regulations of National Flood Insurance Program.
Additional information regarding the coverages, the claims process and a list of frequently asked questions may be obtained at https://www.floodsmart.gov/faqs.
Verify before you buy!!!! Contact us to verify the license of the agent and the insurance company before you sign an application for a policy.
Prepare a Home Inventory Checklist! A home inventory along with photos and proof of ownership – will make it easier to file an accurate, detailed insurance claim in case your home is damaged or destroyed. When you have a loss, it is your responsibility to know what property you have, when it was purchased, how much you paid for it, and how much it will cost to replace it. You should also keep receipts for large purchases, or keep your credit card statements. You may be asked to prove that you ever owned the item in question. It is always a good idea to take pictures or videos of your property as well.
Keep a copy of your important documents in another location! In the event your home is totally destroyed, you would have copies of all your important documents including receipts you may need to settle a claim with your insurance company.
Don’t delay in purchasing your flood insurance policy. With only a couple of exceptions, there is a 30-day waiting for coverage to start.
If you plan to build your home, you may want to speak with your agent to determine what flood zone the new property is located in. The location of the property is used to determine how much you will pay for flood insurance.
Visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/ to obtain additional information about flood insurance.
Should you need additional information, you may speak with an insurance specialist between the hours of 8am–5:00pm at one of the telephone numbers listed below:
Out of State Callers: (850) 413-3089
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders who have questions about their flood insurance policy or the claims process, and disaster survivors, who have general questions about the NFIP, can contact the NFIP Help Center by calling toll-free 800-427-4661. For individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability using 711 or VRS, please call 866-337-4262. For individuals using a TTY, please call 800-462-7585.
When calling, please have the following information available:
Contact information (name, telephone number or email address, if applicable)
Name of flood insurance carrier
The nature of your request
This information will help the representative answer your questions quickly and efficiently
Also, most insurance agents should have information regarding flood policies.
You can contact Ask the Expert by email at email@example.com, 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 contact The Advocate’s Office for assistance.