Program DescriptionThe National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), enables homeowners, business owners and renters in participating communities to purchase federally backed flood insurance. This insurance offers an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing flood damage to buildings and their contents.
Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. There are now more than 20,600 participating communities across the United States and its territories.
Federal flood insurance is available for residents and business owners in both high-risk and moderate-to-low risk areas. The insurance is required for buildings in high-risk areas that have loans from federally regulated or insured lenders. This requirement extends to disaster assistance loans from the Small Business Administration. However, you don't need to have a mortgage or SBA loan or live in a high-risk area to obtain flood insurance. It is available community-wide, with premiums that vary according to the level of risk. In fact, about 25 percent of all flood claims occur in moderate- to low- risk areas, and premiums start as low as $119 per year.
Your community maintains a repository of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that you can view to determine whether your property is located in a high-risk or a moderate- to low-risk area. These maps are usually available at the planning and zoning department where building permits are obtained. They also may be found online at http://msc.fema.gov. If you still have questions after obtaining your flood hazard zone, you may call a FEMA mapping specialist toll free at 1-877-336-2627.
Anyone living in a participating community should consider flood insurance before the next flood occurs. Flood insurance, like other property and casualty coverage, is written by licensed insurance agents. The agent who writes your homeowners or property insurance should be able to assist you in determining your eligibility and coverage options.