In Hawaii—an island state surrounded by water and with abundant rainfall—flood insurance matters. As a homeowner or renter, it’s important for you to understand your flood exposure and how insurance may or may not apply. Here are some answers to your frequently asked questions.
Does my homeowners policy cover flooding?
Standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. Standard renters insurance policies do not cover flood damage, either. You’ll need to read your insurance policy carefully and talk to your insurance agent, but you can expect to find flood damage excluded from your regular policy. Although some forms of water damage may be covered, you’ll need to purchase a separate policy to cover flooding.
Is flood insurance necessary?
Flood insurance may or may not be mandatory for you, but it is always a good idea. If you live in a high-risk area and would like to obtain a mortgage from any federally regulated or insured lender, you must have flood insurance. Otherwise, whether you obtain flood insurance is up to you. People who live in low risk areas should be aware that floods can still occur, and the damage can be devastating. In 2019, the average flood claim payout was around $52,000.
How can I tell if I’m in a flood zone?
To check your flood risk, use the tool at FloodSmart.gov. You can also use the FEMA Flood Map Service. The level of risk varies, but no area is completely safe. Flooding can happen anywhere.
What is the National Flood Insurance Program?
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a United States program created in the 1960s. Its goals include helping communities manage floodplains and helping individuals find affordable flood insurance. Insurers can participate in the National Flood Insurance Program to offer flood insurance in participating communities. Hawaii, Honolulu, Kauai and Maui counties currently participate.
How much flood insurance do I need?
When flooding occurs, it does a great deal of damage, so you want to make sure you have enough coverage to protect your house and your belongings. Under the National Flood Insurance Program, standard policies have coverage limits of $250,000 for a one- to four-family residential structure and $100,000 for the personal belongings within that structure. If your house is worth significantly more than that, you can talk to your insurance agent about obtaining what’s called an excess flood insurance policy.
What does flood insurance cover?
Neither Hurricane nor Homeowners insurance covers water damage caused by tidal surges, overflowing bodies of water, or flash floods. You need flood insurance for these hazards. Think of it this way: Either homeowners or hurricane coverage protect you against rain damage (depending on wind speeds as determined by the National Weather Service), while flood insurance covers you against water flowing over the ground.
Can I get flood insurance immediately?
A flood insurance policy from the NFIP normally carries a 30-day waiting period before it becomes active, with some exceptions.