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CA Department of Insurance
CA Department of Insurance
CA Department of Insurance

Flood Insurance Fact Sheet

Overview


Flooding is the nation's number one natural disaster. While floods occur in every area of the country, many property owners remain unprepared. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Therefore, it is important to know what options are available to protect your assets from flood losses. The U.S. Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968. The NFIP is a Federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance as a protection against flood losses. Participating in the NFIP is based on an agreement between communities and the Federal Government. The program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and provides flood insurance protection to property owners, renters, and business owners in communities that participate in the program.

How Flood Insurance Works


Sale of Flood Policies


As long as a community participates in the NFIP, residents are eligible to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is sold to property owners located in NFIP communities through state licensed property and casualty insurance agents and brokers who deal directly with FEMA; or private insurance companies through a program known as Write Your Own (WYO). Here is a list of participating WYO companies.

You should talk to your insurance agent if you have questions, would like additional information and/or are ready to purchase a flood insurance policy. If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Help Center at 1-800-427-4661 to request an agent referral.

Policy Effective Date


The policy will take effect 30 days after it is purchased. However, if you buy a house in a designated high-risk area and receive a mortgage loan from a federally regulated lender, by law, the lender must require the borrower to purchase and regularly renew flood insurance.  In this case, the policy will take effect immediately and the borrower does not have to wait 30 days.
 

Flood Insurance Coverage


In general, coverage is provided for direct physical loss to the property from a flood which is described as:

A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from:

  1. Overflow of inland or tidal waters
  2. Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source
  3. Mudflow -  Mudflow is defined as a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas such as when earth is carried by a current of water. Landslide, slope failures, or saturated soil moving down a slope are not mudflows.

In general, the policy excludes losses caused by earth movement, even if the earth movement is caused by flood. Examples of excluded earth movement include:

  • Earthquake;
  • Landslide;
  • Land subsidence;
  • Sinkholes;
  • Destabilization or movement of land resulting from accumulation of water;
  • Gradual erosion;
Regulatory Jurisdiction


The California Department of Insurance does not regulate the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood insurance is a federal program. You can call 1-800-638-6620 to report a claim or find the specific NFIP toll-free phone number by WYO Company for claims and policy inquiries.

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