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Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is highly recommended. Remember, even if the last storm or flood missed you and even if your home has been floodproofed, the next flood could be worse.

Local insurance agents can sell a flood insurance policy under rules and rates set by the Federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

  • Any agent can sell a policy and all agents must charge the same rates.
  • Any house can be covered by a flood insurance policy, as long as the community participates in the NFIP.
  • It does not matter if it is in the mapped floodplain or out of it.
  • Detached garages and accessory buildings are covered under the policy for the lot's main building.

Separate coverage can be obtained for the building's structure and for its contents (except for money, valuable papers, and the like).

  • The structure generally includes everything that stays with a house when it is sold, including the furnace, cabinets, built-in appliances, and wall-to-wall carpeting. There is no coverage for things outside the house, like the driveway and landscaping.
  • Renters can buy contents coverage, even if the owner does not buy structural coverage on the building.
  • Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank when they got a mortgage or home improvement loan.
  • If you have a policy, check it closely. You may only have structural coverage (because that's all that banks require).

Basements, split levels and bi-level

  • There is limited coverage for basements and the below grade floors of bilevels and trilevels.
  • The National Flood Insurance Program defines "basement" as "any area of the building, including any sunken room or sunken portion of a room, having its floor below ground level (subgrade) on all sides." This includes split levels and bilevels.
  • Coverage under building or structural coverage is limited to specific items needed for the operation of the building, such as a furnace, water heater, clothes washer and dryer. There is very limited coverage for finishings, such as wallpaper and carpeting, and contents.
  • Flood insurance only covers damage when there is a general condition of surface flooding in the area.

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Preferred risk

  • The National Flood Insurance Program has a special "preferred risk policy" for properties outside the mapped floodplain with no previous flood insurance claims.
  • It's cheaper and is designed to provide "peace of mind" to owners of homes subject to a lower flood risk.
  • For more information on this type of policy go here.

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Example NFIP Flood Insurance Premiums

Policy/Building Exposure


Pre-FIRM ("subsidized") rate (AE zone)


Post-FIRM (actuarial) rates (AE zone)

2 feet above BFE


1 foot above BFE




1 foot below BFE


X Zone


Annual premium is for $150,000 in building coverage and $60,000 in contents coverage for a one-story house with no basement and a $500 deductible.

May 1, 2007, Flood Insurance Agent's Manual


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The Community Rating System (CRS) is an NFIP program designed to reward communities that go over and beyond minimum NFIP standards in floodplain management
Under the CRS, flood insurance premium rates are adjusted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from community activities that meet the three goals of the CRS:

  1. reduce flood losses;
  2. facilitate accurate insurance rating; and
  3. promote the awareness of flood insurance.

There are ten CRS classes: class 1 requires the most credit points and gives the largest premium reduction; class 10 receives no premium reduction. The CRS recognizes 18 creditable activities, organized under four categories:

  • Public Information
  • Mapping and Regulations
  • Flood Damage Reduction
  • Flood Preparedness

To find out what your community's CRS rating is, click here.  If you community is not listed, it is a Class 10 and is not participating in the CRS.

To find out about Community Rating System User's Groups, click here

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Basements, split-level, bi-level
Preferred risk
Community Rating System