Flood Insurance in New Hampshire
What Property Owners Need to Know about Flood Insurance in NH:
Living and working in New Hampshire, we may not think that flooding is a concern. The majority of our homes and businesses are not on the coast, so the dramatic images of people on roof-tops after flooding from Hurricane Katrina or Harvey may seem a stretch for us. Though we may never have such an extreme event occur, according to NH.gov, the most common natural hazard in New Hampshire is a flood.
Given that it is the most common natural hazard, you should be aware that your standard personal and commercial insurance policy does not cover floods!
Does Home or Business Insurance Cover Flood Damage?
Even one inch of water in your home or business could cost you thousands of dollars in damages. You may think that you do not need flood insurance as flood damage would be covered on your homeowners or business property insurance. To be very clear:
1. A homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage.
2. A commercial property policy does not cover flood damage.
Why Everyone in NH Needs Flood Insurance
The number one reason you need flood insurance is that it is typically excluded from both personal and commercial insurance, meaning there is no coverage at all for a flood.
Even though you may think you don't really need flood insurance, think again. Floodwaters can rise quickly and nothing can stop it. According to the Federal Emergency and Management Agency (FEMA), between 20% and 25% of all flood insurance claims come from low-risk areas, so you don't need to live near a water source to be flooded. Floods are caused by storms, melting snow, hurricane, and water back-up due to overloaded or inadequate drainage.
The damage from floods can be devastating. You could be dealing with toppled trees, rancid sewer water, and enormous damage to your home and basement. Don't add to this stress by thinking about the thousands of dollars it will take to get your life back to normal.
Given that much of New Hampshire is not in a high-risk flood zone, premiums are typically very low. According to FEMA, homeowners can insure buildings and contents for as little as $150 a year, while NH business owners can insure a building and contents for as little as $500 a year. How much would it cost to clean up after a flood? You can be sure it is more than $500.
How to Cover Property Damage Caused by Flood?
You must purchase a separate flood insurance policy.
How Does FEMA Flood Insurance Work?
Though individual insurance companies offer flood insurance, the majority of flood insurance is actually run by the US Government as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA sets the rules and the rates and allows several private insurance companies to write the policy on their behalf.
The premiums are set by FEMA based on the property location and amount of coverage requested. Properties are located in various “zones” and can be classified as being in a “special flood hazard zone” or in a "regular non-hazard zone" as determined by FEMA flood mapping. The closer the dwelling is located to a body of water the greater the likelihood that it is in a “special flood hazard area”. Flood insurance premiums are higher if a property is located in a special flood hazard area.
The likelihood of flooding is determined by the designated flood zone, not your personal experience occupying the property. If you do not agree with the flood zone, the only way to dispute the mapping is to obtain an elevation certificate.
If you are purchasing a building in a flood hazard zone, chances are good that the lending institution supplying your mortgage will require flood insurance, minimum to the amount of the loan. People paying cash for a building are not required to obtain flood insurance but we would strongly recommend it.
Buildings away from the water will likely not be considered in a flood hazard area. These property owners can still purchase flood insurance at surprisingly inexpensive rates.
At HPM Insurance, we can review the “flood zone” in which your home is located, determine the structure and foundation type and review some coverage options and deductibles with you. Our risk management specialists are experienced with walking you through the coverage and pricing options for NH flood insurance.
Do I Have to Buy Flood Insurance Issued by FEMA?
That will depend on whether you have a mortgage on the property and if the lender will allow a non-FEMA-backed policy. It is worth asking as there are benefits to some of the new flood insurance products coming to market (like higher building limits available), but buyer-beware as there are also some drawbacks. Be sure to speak with an insurance professional so you have a clear understanding of both options.
That said, over the last few years, private flood insurance is gaining traction in the marketplace due to better technology in mapping flood zones. One of the bigger risks faced by property owners who purchase private flood insurance is the option for the company to non-renew your policy if determined the property is too risky to insure. Policies issued by FEMA can not usually be canceled, as long as the premium is paid.
Why You Should Consider NH Flood Insurance Now
If you decide you want to buy flood insurance, FEMA typically has a 30-day waiting period before the coverage can go into effect. You need to plan ahead so you are not caught without flood insurance when a flood threatens your home or business. (The private market may have a shorter wait time, such as 15 days, but both markets allow for shorter wait times if you are purchasing a new property.)
If you think that you do not need to buy insurance because there will be federal disaster assistance available in case you need it, think again. Federal disaster assistance is only available if the President declares a disaster. Flood insurance can pay even if a disaster is not declared.
Why HPM Insurance
HPM Insurance has convenient locations throughout New Hampshire including in Amherst Bedford, Bristol, Goffstown, and Laconia. Take the time to speak with a professional and learn how flood insurance works. We will review what it covers (appliances and items inside the home) and what it does not (decks and items outside the home).
At HPM Insurance we have insured the residents and businesses of New Hampshire and beyond from unpredictable flooding since 1860.