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    What Military Homeowners and Renters Should Know About Flood Insurance

    Updated 2023

    Early in my husband's military career, we opted to live in on-base military housing. One morning, I opened our outside storage room door to behold a shimmering pond of standing water. Horror struck, I realized that not only were several pieces of stored furniture ruined, boxes of keepsakes that hadn’t fit into our small housing unit were now sodden and unrecognizable. Overnight heavy rains had caused flooding in the storage areas located behind base housing.

    And while the sentimental items could never be replaced, our hopes were that we could recoup some of the other damages through the renters insurance we’d purchased on moving in.


    Other military renters and first-time homeowners may assume, like we did, that this flood damage would be covered under a regular homeowners or renters insurance policy. Or they may think that since they don’t live in a typical “flood plain,” their belongings aren’t at risk and therefore they don’t need the additional coverage. 

    While some types of water damage can be covered by an insurance policy, such as damage from a burst pipe or roof leak, there are some common problems that are not covered by a standard homeowners or renters policy, such as flood damage from hurricanes, tsunamis, storm surges, water from overflowing rivers, and water due to heavy rain; water damage from "earth movement" (i.e., earthquake, landslide, mudslide), sump pump failure; and more. (Source)

    But consider this: Just one inch of flood water can cause more than $25,000 in damage to a home. And flooding is not only related to heavy rainfall or storms. Snowmelt, land development, river flow changes, and storm surges are also some causes of flooding.

    High-Risk Area Flood Insurance Requirements

    According to FEMA, “Homes and buildings in high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance. In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage.”

    But what if you're located in a lower risk area? Should you still purchase flood insurance? What if you don't own property—are your belongings eligible for insurance against flood loss? 

    For answers to questions like these, especially as they pertain to military families, we consulted with the experts at USAA. Justin Morgan, Product Management Director with USAA, provided us with the following information.

    Common Questions from Military Families About Flood Insurance

    1) How do I purchase additional flood insurance?

    Flood is specifically excluded under most homeowners insurance policies; often the only option for flood coverage is through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

    2) Should renters or families living in military housing invest in flood insurance?

    However, the above exclusion is not always the case with renters insurance that covers personal property. USAA Renters Policy does include coverage for flood. It is always best to speak with a licensed insurance professional or agent to discuss what specific exclusions may or may not apply.

    3) How do I find out if my property is in a high or low risk area?

    Start here: USAA Disaster and Recovery Center and Floodmart.gov. You should also contact your insurance agent or representative for specifics about your location.

    4) For someone living in a low risk flood area, do you still recommend flood insurance? Why or why not?

    In the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced a flood or flash flood. As such, just because you live in a moderate to low risk area does not mean you cannot or will not experience a flood. Low risk does not equal no risk, as nearly 20% of all NFIP flood claims come from moderate to low risk areas. Since your home and personal property are often your most valuable assets, it is important to seek coverage from flooding, even in low risk areas, to protect your financial security.

    5) What do flood insurance policies cover? Is there a type of flood that is not covered?

    Flood insurance can provide protection to the building itself, as well as personal contents. To review all the various coverage options and any possible exclusions that may apply, you should contact a licensed insurance professional.

    Other important points from Morgan:

    • Something to remember: there is typically a 30-day waiting period before your policy goes into effect.
    • Policy premiums will vary based on coverage selections, deductible options, and location, in addition to other factors.

    Whether you're a renter, homeowner, or living in military housing, being armed with the most up-to-date information regarding property insurance will help you avoid needless loss such as our family experienced.

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    Jen McDonald


    Jen McDonald

    Jen McDonald is the Content Editor for MilitaryByOwner Advertising. She's a longtime writer, the author of the book You Are Not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse, the host of the Milspouse Matters podcast, and has been published in several books and numerous national publications. She was a military spouse for nearly 30 years and is the mom of four (including one son in the military). One of her happiest roles now is being a grandmother. She and her newly retired Air Force husband have been stationed all around the world from Europe to the Pacific and won’t count how many houses they’ve lived in because that would be too depressing. Her passion is encouraging young military spouses and regularly sharing about topics like military life, parenting, homeschooling...and now grandparenting! See more from Jen at her site, Jen McDonald and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , and Pinterest.

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