Floods and Flood Insurance

State officials say it's probable that a lot of flood damaged homes on Houston's west and northwest sides aren't covered by flood insurance. Jim Bell explains.

A lot of people believe — mistakenly — that their homeowners' insurance covers any kind of water damage. State Insurance Department spokesman Jerry Haggins says homeowners insurance only covers damage caused by rain driven into the home by the wind. It doesn't cover damage caused by rising water.

"Flood is not typically covered in a Homeowners Policy, not just in Texas but really anywhere, nationally. To get flood insurance you need to get it separately, and it's sold through a federal program called the National Flood Insurance Program." 

Haggins says flood insurance covers any kind of rising water event, including water from flooding bayous and streets, and you don't have to live in a flood plain.  Even so, he says Houston area flood victims who don't have flood insurance should still talk with their insurance agent because it's probable that at least some of their storm damage could be covered.

"Ask them what your coverage is and see if there are any options. If you don't have insurance for flood, for rising water, and that's what caused the damage then no you will not be covered and you'll have to bear that expense yourself."

Flood insurance premiums are based on where you live.  People on and near the coast pay more than people 75 or a hundred miles inland.  You can buy it any time, but there's a 30 day waiting period before it goes into effect.  The National Flood Insurance Program is managed by FEMA, but you can buy the coverage through your own insurance agency.  To learn more about the program, visit the National Flood Insurance Program web site.  

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.