Though flood may seem unlikely in many parts of New Hampshire, it does happen and when the waters rise, extensive damage can occur. Rivers like the Merrimack, Pemigewasset and Saco and the more than 950 lakes throughout our state can often flood, but so can the less obvious areas. In the last 5 years, all 50 states have experienced either a flood or a flash flood and with the intensity of storms increasing so does the chance of water damage. What many home and business owners do not realize is that flood is not covered on a typical homeowners or business owners policy. To properly protect your property, you need a separate NH flood insurance policy.
Flood Insurance in New Hampshire
Flooding can happen to any property because as they say, where it rains it can flood. Water damage can be devastating because it often causes thousands of dollars worth of damage that is excluded from a standard homeowners policy. Because of this it is critical that you understand your flood risk. This can easily be done on the National Flood Insurance Protection's (NFIP) website FloodSmart.gov. From here you can simply enter your address and you better understand your risk, get an estimate of premium and locate an agent in your area to help you purchase coverage.
What is a Flood Zone?
With its many lakes and rivers, as well as a coastal exposure, New Hampshire does have a significant flood risk throughout the state. The risk is not necessarily determined by the property's proximity to water, but instead by a flood zone as defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A flood zone is a particular area of land as identified by FEMA in terms of its risk for flooding. All areas are considered in a flood zone per FEMA, it is just a matter of whether the property is considered a low, moderate or high risk flood zone.
Is Flood Coverage Required?
Flood coverage is becoming more frequently required by lenders whether for a new purchase or a refinance. Some people are taken by surprise when a lender requires a flood policy on a property they have owned for years and never had this requirement before. This may happen due to a change in the flood zone of your property as FEMA has recently remapped many areas.
Flood coverage may also be required if you request disaster assistance through the government from a previous flood.
Purchasing NH Flood Insurance
Though flood coverage is not required, it is a good idea to purchase it as again, flood damage is typically excluded from all property policies. Insurance for flooding is backed by the Federal government and must be purchased through an insurance agent. The good news is that because it is a government-sponsored policy, premium do not typically vary based on the insurance company paper it is written on so it is not necessary to shop around. The bad news is that if the premiums is high, the premium is high.
Factors that drive the premium include the flood zone, the building's elevation and type of construction.
It is important to note that there is a 30-day waiting period on most insurance policies for flood. This means that you cannot wait for a flood to become imminent before purchasing it, as your damages would not be covered. There are some exceptions to this rule, so contact a licensed insurance agent for more information.
Understanding Flood Coverage
Whenever your purchase an insurance policy, you should understand what is and is not covered. You are strongly advised to read the policy but here are a few of the items that are typically covered:
The dwelling at the described location which also includes
- Built-in appliances
- Water heaters
- Plumbing fixtures
- Carpet permanently installed over unfinished flooring
- Furnaces and radiators
Personal property coverage is optional and must be added to the policy separately. If purchased it may include:
- Property owned by you or your household family members
- Portable air conditioning units
- Carpets not permanently installed
- Washers and dryers
- Freezers (other than a walk-in)
Areas that are not typically covered on a flood policy include:
- Personal property not inside a building
- Other self-propelled vehicles that could be registered for road use
- Land including lawns and trees
- Currency and valuable papers
- Loss of revenue or profit
- Additional living expenses
Flood Insurance can seem like an extra expense but given the extent of damage that occur from one single storm, it is at least worth considering. The Flood Smart website can provide you an estimate in seconds and a licensed insurance agent can tighten up the quote and give you the information you need to make an informed decision. Now that is smart!
This material is for informational purposes only. All statements herein are subject to the provision, exclusions, and conditions of the applicable policy, state and federal laws. For an actual description of all coverages, terms and conditions, please refer to the applicable insurance policy, FEMA or your lender.