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The best time to get protection against a flood is before it happens. That means if you keep anything in a basement or live on the ground floor, it's important to have flood insurance.
Floods are the most common natural disaster and they can cause significant damage.
Buying flood insurance is always a good idea but in some cases it's also mandatory. It's important to understand how and when to buy flood insurance so that you're prepared before disaster strikes.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency administers the National Flood Insurance Program which is generally a good place to start.
Under federal law, homes with a federally regulated mortgage must have flood insurance if located within a Special Flood Hazard Area. Even if your home is not within a SFHA, banks may require that you have flood insurance before approving a mortgage.
Homeowner's insurance policies don't cover flooding. If you want to protect yourself, you need separate insurance.
Because of the potentially high cost of flood damage, the NFIP provides subsidized insurance to homeowners in many communities. If your area isn't covered, insurance is available through private companies.
Just because you've purchased flood insurance, doesn't mean everything is covered.
Protect yourself early because flood insurance coverage doesn't kick in until 30 days after the policy is purchased. If you wait until the flood warnings arrive your policy may not pay out.
Most flood insurance policies limit eligibility if the homeowner didn't protect themself from damage. If there is water or mold damage that you should have prevented, the insurance company may not pay out.
There are other common limitations to flood insurance so it's important to check your policy thoroughly.
If there is a flood and your insurance provider is unwilling to pay for covered damage, don't let them get away with it. Get help from an experienced lawyer and make your provider honor the policy terms.
A flood can cause significant damage but with proper protection it doesn't have to be devastating. Purchase insurance now to protect yourself in the future.