UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020
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Renters insurance is “contents-only” insurance, which means that it covers the same perils covered by a standard homeowners policy, except that it does not pay for repairs or replacement of any permanent structures. Homeowners policies, renters insurance included, do not provide flood coverage by default. In most circumstances, you will only be able to get flood insurance through national programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program.
Water Damage vs. Flooding
Do not confuse water damage with flood insurance. Water damage is caused by an event or peril, such as a broken pipe or the water used to put out a fire. Flooding occurs when rising water overflows is boundaries, such as a dam giving way, excessive tidal surges, or heavy rains causing a river to rise. The difference is crucial, because water damage is covered by most standard home insurance policies, but flooding is always excluded.
Why Flood Insurance is Important
Flooding can happen in any location, and potential flood situations may happen unexpectedly. Without flood insurance, you would have to pay for the repair or replacement of your own property, up to and including a total loss of everything. Because the average person has thousands of dollars of personal property, paying for flood insurance, even for many years, will cost much less than the out of pocket expenses without insurance.
Where to Purchase Flood Insurance
Flood insurance is not available from most traditional insurance companies. Instead, you may have the option of purchasing from a high risk insurer, or even limited to the National Flood Insurance Program, NFIP, as your only choice. The best place to start looking for flood insurance is with your state’s Department of Insurance, where you can get information about flood potential for your location, insurance companies licensed to sell flood insurance in your state, and more.