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What Is Flood Insurance: What Does It Cover & Not Cover?

By Teri Dormer

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We go to great lengths to protect our homes and our possessions inside. But what about protecting your home from the devastating effects of hurricanes or flooding?

What might look like minimal water damage caused by flooding or storm surges can cost your family thousands of dollars to repair or replace.

Depending on where you live or the kinds of elemental damage your home might be susceptible to, it can be imperative to understand what’s covered by flood insurance – and what’s not.

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about flood insurance coverage to help you decide whether the extra insurance is a smart investment for your home or an unnecessary expense.

What Is Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance coverage is designed to provide an additional layer of protection against damage caused by flooding. Homeowners who live in high-risk areas (including coastal cities and those prone to flooding) may be required to carry flood insurance coverage.

Because standard homeowners insurance won’t cover damage to your home or belongings caused by extensive water damage, a separate flood insurance policy can help protect you from heavy rains, a hurricane, or spring thaws in colder parts of the country.

What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

You can expect flood insurance to cover the vast majority of your home and its contents. Everything, from the foundation of your property to the built-in furnishings and personal possessions, is covered through various levels of homeowners flood insurance.

Just like your homeowners insurance, your flood insurance coverage may depend on the fine print of the policy. It’s important to know what your flood insurance covers from day one so there’s no guessing or unexpected surprises when the time comes to file a claim.

These are just a few of the elements that may be covered by your flood insurance:

  • Your home and its foundation: This includes the basic structure of your home in addition to plumbing, the electrical installation, central air conditioning, heat pumps, the water heaters, and any furnaces.
  • Attached home furnishings: Any built-in elements to the home, including bookcases, cabinets, or a detached garage, are covered as an extension of your building property coverage.
  • Appliances: Standard kitchen appliances, including the stove, dishwasher, and the refrigerator, are covered by Federal Flood Insurance.
  • Personal property: With the right coverage, things like clothing, furniture, small appliances (like microwaves), personal electronics, and other valuables may be protected with flood insurance coverage.

Does Flood Insurance Cover Hurricanes?

Your standard homeowners insurance policy may cover water damage from a burst pipe, but water damage from a hurricane is almost certainly excluded.

Thankfully, flood insurance adds additional protection for people living in hurricane-prone areas. Flood insurance coverage extends to storm surges and rising water caused by natural disasters, including hurricanes.

While flood insurance covers both damages from flooding to your home and your property, people living in high-impact areas of the country (like Florida or Louisiana) may also want to consider investing in windstorm insurance coverage to protect their homes from hurricanes.

Does Flood Insurance Cover Contents?

With standard flood insurance coverage, not all of your home’s contents may be covered from flood or storm damage. The National Flood Insurance Program offers minimal coverage for valuables in your home — like original artwork or expensive jewelry — up to $2,500.

For personal possessions not stored in the basement, federal flood insurance coverage offers protection up to $100,000 to protect your home’s contents. For some people, this level of coverage may feel excessive, and many policies offer lower limits of coverage that may not be as expensive or may include lower deductibles.

What Does Flood Insurance Not Cover?

Several elements of your home and property aren’t covered by flood insurance. Outside property, furniture or contents stored in the basement level of your home are specific exclusions in most flood insurance policies.

You may have the option to enroll in additional coverage to expand your family’s flood protection, but many of these elements fall outside the scope of basic flood insurance coverage:

  • Outside property: Your deck, pool, fencing, patio, and landscaping likely aren’t covered under flood insurance.
  • Loss of currency: Any precious metals, cash, stock certificates, or bearer bonds won’t have coverage due to a flood.
  • Mold or mildew: Later damage caused by molding or mildew isn’t protected by flood insurance.
  • Temporary housing: Unlike some other coverage options, flood insurance coverage often does not include the expense of moving into temporary housing or loss of income you might sustain as a result of the damage done to your home. That would be covered under your home insurance policy.
  • Basements: All living spaces below ground level are limited. Any structural damage done to below-ground or walkout basements may not be protected by your coverage.

How to Get Flood Insurance

Depending on where you live and the needs of your home, flood insurance can be purchased from a private company, like Clovered, or through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Still, no matter where you enroll in flood insurance, you may find that the basics of coverage are largely similar across all policies.

Exactly what flood insurance covers will depend on the specifics of your plan, but there are certain things you can expect to be exempt from regardless.

If you have any questions about your policy, make sure to check with your insurance provider about what’s included and what could be completely lost in the event of flood damage.