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What does flood insurance cover?

Posted at 7:43 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 20:43:33-05

Strong, back-to-back winter storms soaked an already soggy California, putting most of the Golden State under flood advisories in early February.

Most people in those areas are used to drought, not floods, and they're now finding out homeowners insurance won't cover the damage.

"Flood insurance is the product that will cover your losses when the water comes from the ground up. Standard homeowners and renters insurance do not cover flood losses," said Janet Ruiz, the Director of Strategic Communication for the Insurance Information Institute.

Flood insurance in the U.S. comes from the National Flood Insurance Program, which is run by FEMA. This means even if you get a flood policy through your normal insurance provider, it's backed by federal money.

The federal policies cover up to $250,000 in structural damage and up to $100,000 in losses inside the home.

That limit could be met quickly in a place like Los Angeles County where, according to real estate company Redfin, the median home value sits at around $845,000.

Homeowners can buy excess flood insurance to match their homeowner's policy limits but many don't.

However, if your car is damaged in flooding, there is some hope.

"Auto insurance will pay for flood claims. They'll also pay for trees that fall on your car or any other covered perils - and that is under your comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance," said Ruiz.

But keep in mind -- if your policy has a deductible, you will have to pay that cash upfront.

To learn more about flood insurance, what it covers, and how to purchase it, head to floodsmart.gov.