Flood Questions and Answers


a. What causes flooding?

Flooding isn’t just a threat to people living near water. It happens all across the country. In all regions, in all climates, in a variety of ways. Take a look at some of the causes of flooding:

Storm Surge
Storm surge is a large dome of water, often 50 or more miles wide, that sweeps across the coastline near where a hurricane makes landfall. Storm surge is the greatest threat to property and life along the effected coast.

Flash Flooding
Intense rainfall in a brief period leaves more water than the ground can absorb. When this happens, flash flooding can occur. Flash floods occur with little or no warning, move at very fast speeds and can reach a peak in a few minutes. They can roll rocks and boulders, tear out trees and destroy buildings and bridges.

Mudslides result from long, heavy rains on hillsides and mountainsides. The water saturates the soil and acts like a lubricant, causing soil, large rocks, boulders and homes to slip free.

This type of flooding comes when higher-than-normal spring temperatures cause snow to melt rapidly. The excess water is too much for the frozen ground to absorb.

Ice Jams
On frozen rivers, melting snow and heavy rain break the ice into large chunks. These chunks float downstream, often piling up at bridges, dams and narrow passages. These ice jams can force water to overflow riverbanks, flooding nearby homes and businesses.

Nature isn’t the only cause of flooding.
New construction and paving alter land’s ability to drain properly. As a result, run-off can increase two to six times over what would occur on natural terrain. Areas that were initially zoned as low-risk can quickly become high-risk as urban development alters topography.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) legally defines a flood as follows:

Under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) a flood is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land by:

  • The overflow of inland or tidal waters.
  • The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.
  • Mudslides (i.e., mudflows) which are proximately caused by flooding, as defined above and are akin to a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, including your premises, as when earth is carried by a current of water and deposited along the path of the current.
  • 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.

To qualify as a general and temporary condition, the flood must affect either two or more adjacent properties or two or more acres of land and have a distinct beginning point and ending point. Also, to qualify, the flood waters can only be surface water that covers land that is normally dry.

b. Will my Homeowners policy cover flood damage?

A Homeowners policy may cover fire, tornado or even earthquake damage. But seldom does it cover damage from flooding – nature’s most common natural disaster.

c. Who gets government aid?

Government aid is available only if the President makes an official disaster declaration (less than half of all flooding qualifies). Most often, federal disaster aid comes in the form of an interest-bearing loan. When grants are awarded, the average amount is less than $2,500. Less than half of flooding events are declared disasters and insurance is often the sole source of assistance for victims.

Home Repair Assistance? Only very minor damage qualifies.

d. What are my chances of flooding?

Live in a high-risk area? You’ve got a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during the life of your 30-year mortgage. You’re also:

  • 6 times more likely to experience flooding than fire.
  • more likely to have your home burglarized.
  • more likely to have your car stolen.

And you don’t have to live in a high-risk zone to be a victim. Almost 25% of all Flood claims come from low- to moderate-risk areas.

e. Is flooding really a serious problem?

The odds may seem like a million to one you’ll ever experience serious flooding. But it happens more than you’d think. In fact, floods are more common than tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, hailstorms, and volcanic eruptions COMBINED.

Even minor flooding can mean major financial difficulties. Imagine just a few inches of floodwater invading your home. That’s more than enough to destroy floors, damage walls, and ruin appliances – costing you thousands. (more on that later)

f. What flood zone am I in?

Below are three major categories of flood zones. However, A & V zones have several subcategories. To get the specifics on what flood zone you live in, call your independent agent or contact us today.

A zones are usually located near a river, lake or stream – making them the second highest risk zone. Average premium is around $595 annually.

V zones are usually located near the ocean. This makes them particularly vulnerable to storm surges (flooding caused by hurricanes). V Zones represent the areas at highest risk, and premiums in this zone are the most expensive. Average premium is around $1,000 annually.

B, C, X, and A99 zones are less prone to flooding. Depending on your area, you may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy and pay as little as $100 per year. Remember that almost 25% of all flood claims come from these “low-risk” zones.

g. Can I wait for a flood warning to buy a flood policy?

Putting off something this important is never a good idea. Especially since there’s a 30-day waiting period on most new flood policies.

However, there’s usually no waiting period for flood insurance when it’s purchased in connection with making, increasing, renewing, or extending a loan.

h. How much does flood insurance cost?

The average premium for a standard flood policy is $353 per year. But remember, you could qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy and pay as little as $100 per year. (refer back to “What flood zone am I in?” for average costs per zone)

Still, it’s hard to see the value of a policy until you actually compare it to the price of flood damage. See for yourself:

Flood Damage Repair Estimate
Remove debris = $ 1,500
Replace carpet =  15,500
Replace drywall/paint/wallpaper = 6,500
Repair cabinets = 4,500
= $28,000

Estimated Flood Damage Total $28,000

Average Annual Flood Insurance Premium $353

A disaster loan of $28,000, which is repayable with interest, would cost more than $1550 a year over 18 years – in addition to your existing mortgage payments. Plus, if you receive disaster assistance, you must purchase and maintain flood insurance to receive further assistance.

i. What are the coverage limits of a standard flood policy?

The maximum coverage on a standard flood policy is:

Single-family home structure: $250,000
Single-family home contents:  $100,000

Business structure: $500,000
Business contents:  $500,000

Renter contents: $100,000

(See how you can increase your coverage under “When is a standard flood policy not enough?”)

In the event of damage from flooding, your claim is paid regardless of whether or not a disaster is declared by the President. And a portion of your claim can be paid immediately to speed the recovery process.

What can a flood policy cover?

  • Flood debris cleanup
  • Structural damage (walls, stairways, ceilings, floors)
  • Household appliances damaged by floodwater (refrigerators, air conditioners, heat pumps, circuit breaker boxes, washers/dryers)
  • Wall-to-wall carpeting, tile and other flooring surfaces

What can contents coverage include?

  • Furniture (beds, couches, dressers, entertainment centers, tables)
  • Collectibles, artwork, knickknacks
  • Clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry

j. When is buying flood insurance required by law?

If you have a federally backed mortgage on a home located in a high-risk zone, federal law requires you to purchase flood insurance to secure a loan.

Also, if you’ve received a federal grant for previous flood losses, you must have a flood policy to qualify for future aid.

k. Why is my friend’s rate higher than mine?

Lots of factors determine flood insurance rates. These include:

  • flood zone
  • amount of coverage
  • location of structure
  • age and design of structure
  • building occupancy
  • structure elevation if located in a Special Flood Hazard Area

l. When is a standard flood policy not enough?

If it would cost more than $250,000 to replace or repair your home, a standard flood policy won’t be enough.

Let’s assume it would cost $750,000 to rebuild your home. That leaves $500,000 not covered by a standard flood policy. What do you do? Simple. Get a policy that fits.

Excess Flood Insurance can increase your standard single-family coverage by up to an additional $500,000 – covering up to $750,000 total. Have a business? Extend your structure coverage from $500,000 up to $1 million.

Contents coverage? Whether a homeowner or business owner, you can purchase up to $100,000 above the existing coverage cap (for a total of $200,000 for a single-family structure and up to $600,000 for a business structure).

Excess Flood limits could be even higher in your state. Ask your independent agent or contact us for details.

m. Where do I stay when my home is flooded?

Only if your home has been destroyed can you qualify for temporary housing (assuming a presidential disaster was declared). Fortunately, you can prepare in case you don’t.

Incidental Flood Insurance, an added coverage to your Homeowners policy, creates an expense account for flooding to match the provisions set for perils like fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes.

If your home is flooded, it can pay for an extended hotel stay, an apartment lease, even a rental home comparable to your own. In some cases, it covers meals, too. (depending on your individual coverage)

If you’re a landlord, Incidental Flood reimburses you the fair market value of lost rent.

But sometimes – depending on your individual Homeowners policy and the state you live in – a separate policy is needed.

That’s why we created Companion Flood. If your home becomes unlivable for more than 48 hours, Companion Flood pays:

  • living expenses up to $1,500 per month (up to 6 months).
  • $500 emergency cash.
  • your flood policy deductible up to $500.

Availability of these unique coverages differs state by state. Ask your independent agent or contact us for details

n. Why Flood Insurance from Bankers?

Bankers was among the very first companies admitted into the National Flood Insurance Program. Since 1984, we’ve become the nation’s largest flood insurance carrier serving independent agents.

That vast experience translates to claims service and customer support second to none.

o. I’d like to learn more. Where do I go?

Get the latest on flooding in your area plus tips on preparedness in our Storm Season section.

For fun-filled kids learning, check out our Flood Zone Kids section.

For more information about the National Flood Insurance Program, visit their site.

p. Can I talk with a flood expert?

You bet. For any questions or comments, fill out our question/comment form or contact us via e-mail and we’ll get back to you.

Can I get a flood quote?

For a free, no-obligation quote on National Flood Insurance, fill out our quote form and we’ll do the rest. Get a quote

q. How do I file a Flood claim?

To file a claim:

1. Call your agent and report your claim. Be sure to leave a phone number where you can be reached. You can also call Bankers at 1-800-725-9472.

2. An adjuster should contact you within three business days and schedule an appointment to assess the damage – walking you through the entire claim process and providing any necessary forms. Response times may vary depending on how many policyholders the adjuster is working with.

Documenting the damage before your adjuster arrives:

1. If possible, photograph the inside and outside of the premises showing the damaged property and the height of the water.

2. Separate damaged from undamaged property for the adjuster’s examination.

3. Itemize missing or damaged goods room by room. Try to:

  • locate receipts or proofs of purchase.
  • note manufacturer names, dates and places of purchase.
  • write down serial numbers, prices, and dates of purchase.

4. Discard any damaged property that presents a health hazard or could hamper cleanup (save a carpet sample so the adjuster can see the extent of damage). Be sure you can give your adjuster a clear description of anything you’ve thrown away.

Settling your claim:

1. When the adjuster arrives, he or she will inspect your itemized list of damaged or destroyed property and work with you to calculate the value. It is important you and the adjuster are in clear agreement on what needs to be replaced or repaired.

2. Let the adjuster know if you need a monetary advance or partial payment of your loss. This amount is determined based on the extent of damage and your coverage limitations.

3. Your adjuster will prepare a repair estimate of damage to your property. If you disagree with the estimate, talk with your adjuster. If the issue remains unresolved, Bankers will arrange for the NFIP General Adjuster to make a final determination.

4. Your adjuster will provide you with a Proof of Loss form, a sworn statement made by you, substantiating the insurance claim.

5. Submit your signed and sworn Proof of Loss form to Bankers within 60 days following the loss. Upon receiving it, we’ll send your claim check within 5 business days.