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The back-to-back March Nor’easter’s left many homeowners struggling with damaged homes due to downed tree limbs and strong winds. Significant flooding made matters much worse for many living near the coast.

Flooding is a very common and costly weather related natural disaster and 13 million homes are located in high-risk flood areas. Unfortunately, flooding due to weather and natural disasters is not typically covered by homeowners insurance and many homeowners don’t have flood insurance. Regardless of whether you live in a flood-prone area or not, now is a smart time for homeowners to look into purchasing flood insurance.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides insurance to homeowners to help reduce the impact of flooding disasters. You can also find a variety of flood policies from private insurers. Keep in mind that most policies go into effect 30 days after the purchase. Under Massachusetts law, you are not required to purchase flood insurance that covers more than the outstanding principal mortgage balance on your home.

What does flood insurance typically cover?

  • Water damage resulting directly from a flood
  • Seepage caused by flooding, even if the house did not flood
  • Sewer backups, only if a flood was the proximate cause of it
  • Loss of refrigerated products, only if caused by flood damage
  • Debris removal resulting from a flood
  • Various optional, special coverages; learn more on the Division of Insurance’s Flood Insurance FAQ

What is typically not covered?

  • Sump pump failure
  • Lawn damage
  • Loss of use or additional living expenses
  • Vehicles, boats, livestock losses, and farm equipment
    • These may be covered if you have comprehensive coverage on your automobile policy, boat owner’s policy, or farmowner’s policy

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) teamed up to create an interactive map to display the risk and severity of flood damage in a given area. Simply type in your address and see if you are at risk in a high flood risk area. Homeowners looking to buy a home within certain designated areas are often required to obtain flood insurance in order to be approved by a lender for a mortgage.

In some instances, you may be eligible to receive money from FEMA or a loan from the Small Business administration to cover the costs of certain home repairs. Typically for this to happen, the President of the United States must have declared the county you live in as a disaster area. More information about that process can be found at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/.

For questions about flood insurance, contact the Division of Insurance’s Consumer Service Department or the NFIP.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws and Arbitration Program, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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