During the hurricane seasons of 2016, 2017, and 2018, many homes, particularly those on beaches, had flood waters (from ocean or rivers) come into the areas below the elevated floor of the dwelling. The waters rose, then fell, leaving behind a mess. Casualties of the flooding include the drywall in the enclosed space and any appliances in the enclosure, such as freezers, clothes dryers, clothes washer, water heaters, etc.
So what coverage does the FEMA flood insurance policy provide for damages below the first floor of an elevated home?
Under the Coverage A Building Property section, certain items in a building enclosure below the lowest elevated floor of a POST Firm dwelling (a home built after about 1974) in an A or V flood zone are covered. These include drywall in a basement, elevators, fuel tanks, water heaters, stairways attached to the building, and other such items as described on page 4 of 26 of the Dwelling Flood Policy. Your insurance agent can go over these other items with you.
Under the Coverage B Personal Property section, coverage is limited to certain items in a building enclosure below the lowest elevated floor of a POST Firm building in an A or V flood zone. These items are clothes washers and dryers, food freezers and the food in them, and portable or window air conditioning units. See page 5 of 26 of the Dwelling Flood Policy.
Flood policies do have a deductible that applies to all losses. The flood policy deductible is a little unusual in that there is a deductible for loss under the building section and a separate deductible for loss under the property section.
In preparing for the 2019 hurricane season, knowing what is covered by the flood policy and what is not covered is critical. If a hurricane is approaching, your hurricane plan should consider moving some items that are stored below the first floor into the living area of the house itself.
Flood insurance is complicated and the flood insurance policy is unlike any other policy! Be sure to review your policy and consult with your insurance agent.