Flood Insurance Resident Information

While the majority of Iowa remains under drought conditions, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports the state is experiencing a drop in residents who carry flood insurance. As that number decreases, homeowners and businesses are potentially exposed to flood damage with no coverage. Floods remain the most frequent and costliest disaster in the United States. According to FEMA, just one inch of flood water inside your home could cost up to $25,000 in damage. 

Benefits of flood insurance coverage

One of the benefits flood insurance coverage provides is policyholders can make a claim even when there isn’t a federal disaster declaration. As long as floodwaters partially or completely inundate two or more properties of normally dry land, one of those being the policyholder’s; a claim can be submitted for the reimbursement of damages incurred by floods. Having flood insurance coverage doesn’t make property owners ineligible for federal disaster assistance either. FEMA encourages policyholders to apply for disaster assistance for expenses not covered under their flood insurance. Expenses related to temporary housing costs and replacing medication could be covered through disaster assistance.

Homeowners, business owners, and renters located within a community participating in the NFIP can purchase building and contents coverage. Even owners of buildings that are under construction can purchase flood insurance through the NFIP. Property owners can contact their insurance agent who provides home and auto coverage to see if they sell flood insurance. Or, property owners can find providers by visiting FloodSmart.gov to purchase a policy.

The NFIP provides coverage for most buildings and their contents. Building coverage includes protection of the structure and its foundation, electrical systems including furnaces, A/C units, and water heaters, permanent floor coverings such as carpeting, built-in appliances, and debris removal. A separate policy can be purchased for personal content. Content coverage includes protection of personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, washers, dryers, deep freezers, and the food stored inside, and valuable items such as artwork and jewelry up to $2,500.

It’s important to note that building coverage is limited in basements, which the NFIP defines as any area of a building that’s below grade on all sides. Walk-out basements are not considered a basement because it is not below ground level on all four sides. Personal items such as furniture, and electronics, as well as improvements like finished flooring and finished walls are not covered if located in basements.

Flood insurance coverage is important for property owners to consider given that 40% of claims made to the NFIP come from buildings located outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area (i.e. 100-yr floodplain). Property owners should not rely solely on disaster assistance to help recover from flooding. Federal disaster assistance comes in the form of a loan that must be repaid with interest. FEMA states that from 2016 to 2022 the average disaster payment was $3,000 while the average flood insurance claim was $66,000. Considering that just a few inches of water inside your home or business can cost tens of thousands of dollars in damage, buying flood insurance is a wise financial decision.

To learn more, view the DNR's Iowa Floodplain Newsletter by clicking here.