What is Flood Insurance?

Homeowners insurance policies protect houses from many perils, but most homeowners policies exclude floods from their list of covered dangers. New Jersey residents that want to protect their houses from floods usually need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy.

Flood insurance is specially designed insurance that safeguards homes from damage caused by flooding and other abnormal water patterns. There are policies available for single-family homes, multi-unit buildings, and condominium complexes. Some insurers also offer flood policies for renters.

What is the National Flood Insurance Program?

The NFIP was established in 1968, and it’s currently a component of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One of the main goals of the NFIP is to help residents in flood-prone areas, such as Ocean City, NJ, Atlantic City, NJ, Brick Township, NJ, and Stafford Township, NJ, find affordable flood coverage.

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To purchase flood coverage through the NFIP, a resident’s community must participate in the program. For residents who live in participating communities, getting a policy through the NFIP is usually the most cost-effective way to secure coverage.

Who in New Jersey Needs Flood Coverage?

Many New Jersey residents ought to have flood coverage. Floods are the top natural disaster in the United States, and more flood claims are filed in New Jersey than any other state.

Furthermore, it’s not only residents who live along the Jersey Shore that need flood policies. More than 20 percent of NFIP claims come from people who live outside of high-risk flood areas.

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What Types of Events Do Flood Policies Cover?

As one might expect, most flood policies cover flooding caused by heavy rainfall or excessive snowmelt. These aren’t the only events that a policy may cover, though. Policies can also provide coverage for:

  • Erosion caused by currents, waves, rising water levels, or uncommon water cycles
  • Sewer backup caused by flooding (and not caused by other issues)
  • Mudslides and mudflows

(Coverage for mudslides and mudflows is less common than coverage for other events, and mudslide and mudflow coverage can be very narrowly defined).

The exact events that a flood policy covers will depend on the policy’s terms, conditions and exclusions, so residents should read any policy they’re considering carefully.

What Property Does Flood Coverage Protect?

Different types of flood policies protect different types of property. For instance, a policy designed for homeowners will generally provide coverage for a primary dwelling, while a policy designed for renters usually won’t cover the building a tenant lives in. In a rental situation, the landlord is typically responsible for insuring the building, because they own it.

In general, flood policies may cover the following types of property:

  • A primary dwelling (i.e. a policyholder’s home)
  • Secondary structures (e.g. fences, sheds, and detached garages)
  • Personal possessions (e.g. clothes, furniture, and decorations)

In some cases, the coverages that a policy provides can become complicated. For instance, some policies may cover a home but not any secondary structures outside of the home. Other policies might only provide limited coverage for a basement or crawlspace and the contents in it, but more robust coverage for the rest of a house.

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Coverage for vehicles, including recreational vehicles, is usually not included in flood policies. Landscaping sometimes also isn’t covered.

How Can Residents Get a Flood Policy?

Because coverages can become complicated, New Jersey residents should talk with an independent insurance agent when they’re looking for flood insurance. An experienced agent will be able to explain the different coverages that are available and how they would provide protection in various scenarios. An agent can also help residents determine whether they qualify for the NFIP or need to purchase a policy on the private market. In either case, an independent agent can help residents find the most affordable policy for them. 


Meet Your Industry Specialist

Jim Hickey

Mr. Hickey is a Partner and the President of Personal Lines. He was the President of Links Insurance Services, which he started in 2001. Jim grew Links Insurance to 40 employees by the time it became a division of World Insurance Associates in 2019.

Jim Hickey has been a top commercial and personal lines producer for the past 15 years and has guided the company to 18 years of year-over-year growth.

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