What Military Homeowners and Renters Should Know About Flood Insurance
Early in our military family days, 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 apartment 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 so carefully purchased.
Other military renters and first-time homeowners may assume, like we did, that 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.
Consider this: Just a few inches of water can cost thousands in damages. In recent years, the average residential flood claim averaged $39,000. 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 FloodSmart.gov, “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 Military Families Have Regarding Flood Insurance
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).
Should renters or families living in military housing invest in flood insurance?
However, that [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.
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 linked above. You should also contact your insurance agent or representative for specifics about your location.
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.
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 like our family did. Need more information about how to protect yourself and your assets during floods or other disasters? Take a look at USAA's disaster preparedness information.