Don’t Let the Storm Catch You Unprepared – Need for Flood Insurance in California
In a state prone to various natural disasters, many California homeowners and business owners may not be aware that their standard insurance policies often exclude coverage for flood-related damages, mudslides, debris flows, and similar disasters. Additionally, the California FAIR Plan currently does not provide coverage for storm-related damage unless consumers purchase a supplemental “difference in conditions” (DIC) policy from another insurance company.
Experts from the Department of Insurance urge Californians, even those in traditionally low-risk areas, to assess their flood risk and consider obtaining coverage before the next storm hits. Here are ten tips for people affected by winter storms from CDI. Additionally, the Los Angeles Fire Department has a resource list on the nine steps to flood recovery, and the City of Los Angeles has a list of City resources and County and State of California resources.
If you have inquiries about your insurance or face disputes with your insurance company, contact the California Department of Insurance at 1-800-927-4357. Flooding stands as the nation’s primary natural disaster, striking every region. Yet, many property owners remain unprepared, unaware that standard homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood damage. It is crucial to explore available options to safeguard your assets from potential flood losses.
In response to this need, the U.S. Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968. This federal initiative allows property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance protecting against flood losses. Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the NFIP offers flood insurance to property owners, renters, and business owners in participating communities. You can learn more about NFIP at floodsmart.gov.
Residents in NFIP communities can purchase flood insurance through state-licensed property and casualty insurance agents and brokers dealing directly with FEMA or private insurance companies participating in the Write Your Own (WYO) program. A list of participating WYO companies is available for reference here
For questions, additional information, or to purchase flood insurance, consult your insurance agent. If your agent does not offer flood insurance, contact the NFIP Help Center at 1-877-336-2627 for an agent referral.
Effective Date of Policy:
The policy takes effect 30 days after purchase. However, if you buy a house in a designated high-risk area and receive a mortgage loan from a federally regulated lender, the lender legally requires the borrower to purchase and regularly renew flood insurance. In this case, the policy takes effect immediately, and there’s no 30-day waiting period.
Flood Insurance Coverage:
In general, coverage includes a direct physical loss to the property from a flood, defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties. This can result from overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters, or mudflow (excluding certain types of earth movement).
The policy typically excludes losses caused by earth movement, such as earthquakes, landslides, land subsidence, sinkholes, destabilization, or movement of land resulting from the accumulation of water and gradual erosion.
It’s essential to note that the California Department of Insurance does not regulate the NFIP, as flood insurance is a federal program. To report a claim or inquire about policies, call 1-800-638-6620 or find the specific NFIP toll-free phone number for claims and policy inquiries.