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What Flood Insurance May Not Cover

Millions of Americans may be affected by flood damage, and many might not have the insurance to cover it. Homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, and you are expected to purchase a separate policy if you live in a flood-prone area. The National Flood Insurance Program administers several policies available in flood-prone communities offering coverage. These policies do come with limitations and are not available in all areas.

Whether you purchase an NFIP policy or a more extensive plan, there could be areas of your home, possessions and property not covered by insurance. It is important to be aware of what these are, so you can take precautions whenever there is a risk of flooding to your home. Alternatively, you might want to expand your policy coverage. Some policies cover the areas listed below, but it is crucial to ensure you know what is covered before a flood.

Large Claims

If you have an NFIP policy, you are most likely be covered for up to $250,000 for building insurance, which covers the structure of your home. This coverage may be available at a replacement cost, directly covering the amount it takes to replace your home’s structure. The $100,000 available for your home’s contents only pays for their actual cash value. Anything larger than these claims may not be covered by your existing policy.

Low-Lying Areas

Basements and crawl spaces are generally the areas of the home considered to be the most at risk in times of flooding. The essential fixtures in your basement, such as a boiler or electrical panel, cannot be removed and must be covered as part of the home within the flood insurance policy. Items kept in basement or crawl space storage may not be covered, even if you have expanded your contents coverage policy. This includes items such as furniture and carpets as well as other possessions.

Your policy might exclude coverage for wall and ceiling damage below a certain level. The elevation of your home is often considered when creating your flood insurance quote, and you must be certain to check which levels of your home are covered before damage is incurred.

Related Article: What is not covered by homeowner’s insurance?

Damage Within 30 Days

NFIP policies only come into effect after a 30-day waiting period, and other policies may have a waiting period comparable to or exceeding 30 days. This means if any flood damage occurs within the waiting period, you may not be covered. It is better not to wait to obtain coverage, as the warning of a potential flood event might not give you enough time for the policy to come into effect. There are some exceptions to this, such as if your area has been designated a Special Flood Hazard Area within the past 13 months. You may find that purchasing a flood insurance policy as an extension to another policy may not carry a waiting period though is important to be certain whether these exceptions apply to you.

Home Contents

Although there are options for both home structure coverage and contents coverage, the standard NFIP policy only covers the building portion. If you want the contents of your home to be covered, you need to purchase a separate policy. Some possessions could seem as though they may be covered as part of the building may not be, and you must make sure to look for the individual items included in your policy. Contents coverage includes items such as:

  • Portable appliances, including portable microwaves, and removable dishwashers and air conditioners.
  • Personal belongings, including electronic items and clothes. You could choose to have expensive items such as fur coats included up to a certain amount.
  • Curtains.
  • Removable carpets, including carpet tiles and area carpets installed over wood floors.

Outdoor Items and Property

Fixtures and belongings kept outdoors are generally not included in a flood insurance policy. This extends to the following: 

  • Vehicles considered self-propelled may not be covered by your flood insurance policy. This includes cars, as well as any car parts that need to be replaced as a result of flood damage.
  • Garages might be covered by your policy, but this could mean reducing the coverage for your main residence.
  • Plants, including trees.
  • Swimming pools and hot tubs.
  • Septic systems, tanks and water wells.
  • Fences and walls.
  • Decks and patios.

Wall and Ceiling Damage

Floods can often cause moisture damage throughout a home, and the homeowner needs to remove the resulting mold and mildew. This might not be covered by a flood insurance policy, as there are often steps the homeowner can take to prevent this damage from occurring, so the homeowner may need to cover the cost of removal on their own.

While drywall replacement may be covered, drywall for low areas may not be. Walls and ceilings that are not made of drywall, regardless of their level, might not be covered.

Earth Damage

A flood insurance policy might cover damage because of a mudflow, which is moving liquid mud. Other earth movements such as a landslide may not be covered by a standard flood policy either, and you need to consult with the stipulations of your policy to determine if you have coverage for these events. This is regardless of whether the earth movement was caused by the flood itself.


Flood damage can involve many expenses that are not directly related to repairing your home and replacing its contents. These additional expenses, while caused by the flood, are often not covered by a standard flood policy. Reviewing your policy may help you determine whether you are covered for any of the following expenses: 

  • Lost currency is generally not covered by flood insurance. This includes paper items such as cash and stock certificates, as well as precious metals.
  • Business losses, if the damage to your home has disrupted your business practices, may not be covered.
  • Temporary housing and other living expenses incurred by lack of access to your home may not be covered by your policy.
  • Spoiled food is probably not covered by most flood insurance policies. An exception may be if the food was kept in a freezer, as your policy might cover freezers and their contents.

Related Article: Manufactured Home Insurance


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