5 Flood Insurance Myths Homeowners Should Understand

By Michael Brough

“If it can rain where you live, it can flood,” warns Justin P. Morgan, flood product management director at USAA. Over the years, that wisdom has proved correct time after time, he says. “All 50 states have experienced flooding — even places with typically dry climates.” 

A 2016 poll showed that only 12% of homeowners had flood insurance, a surprising finding given that for most Americans, their home is their most valuable asset.

According to Morgan, there are five common misconceptions about flood insurance:

1. If I have homeowners insurance, I’m covered. Actually, most homeowners policies don’t cover flood damage — and most of them clearly exclude it. The truth is that if you haven’t specifically purchased flood insurance, you almost surely don’t have it and will pay for all damage resulting from a flood event.

2. My area has moderate- to low-flood risk, and my lender doesn’t require flood coverage, so I don’t really need it. In fact, approximately 20% of flood claims come from moderate- to low-risk areas, not the low-lying sites you might expect. Homes in these areas are also not required to elevate, so their foundations are often formed directly on the ground, which exposes them to severe flood damage even with moderate rain. A large snow melt can also threaten homes that are usually dry. A nearby building project can create drainage issues and increase the chance of flash floods. Even a slope can impact runoff, allowing water to accumulate quickly.  

3. My state has been in drought for years, so I don’t need flood coverage. The dryness of arid regions makes the ground too hard to absorb rain, which can make structures especially susceptible to flood damage. A sudden, strong downpour can unleash flash floods that engulf homes and batter them with debris.

4. One or 2 inches of flooding isn’t a big deal. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to your home and belongings. Use the National Flood Insurance Program’s interactive tool to see the inch-by-inch cost of flooding for your household.

5. I can keep track of the weather and buy flood coverage right before I need it. In accordance with FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, almost all flood policies require a 30-day waiting period before taking effect, and they must be paid in full. That means the best time to sign up is now, says Morgan: “I’ve had some heartbreaking talks with people who want to sign up for flood coverage right before a storm hits, but by that time, it’s too late, and there’s legally nothing I can do to help them.” Another thing to keep in mind: Flood policies don’t automatically renew, so your coverage won’t continue without your decision and upfront payment.

Millions of homes aren’t covered from the catastrophic damage floods can cause. Is yours one?

See the National Flood Insurance Program website to learn more about flood risk.

Learn more about USAA flood insurance and get a quote.

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Flood insurance is not underwritten by USAA or its affiliates. It is provided by USAA General Indemnity Company through an arrangement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The federal government has financial responsibility for underwriting losses.