How to Buy Flood Insurance

Property owners, renters, and business people in flood hazard areas of communities that have qualified for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) may purchase flood insurance. Local government officials can tell you if your community is eligible. If your community is not already in the program, local officials may wish to contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for assistance in qualifying for participation.

The best person to help you buy flood insurance is the agent or the insurance company from whom you obtain your homeowner's or automobile insurance. Flood insurance may be bought through any licensed property or casualty insurance agent in Wisconsin.

Some insurance companies actually issue the flood insurance policies, in partnership with the federal government, as a service and convenience for their policyholders. These insurance companies are called Write Your Own (WYO) (http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/wyo.shtm) insurers.

The WYO Program allows participating property and casualty insurance companies to write and service the Standard Flood Insurance Policy in their own names. The companies receive an expense allowance for policies written and claims processed while the federal government retains responsibility for underwriting losses. The WYO Program operates within the context of the NFIP, and is subject to its rules and regulations. If your agent or insurance company is not in the WYO Program you may be referred to another agent or insurance company involved in the program. Your agent may also order the policy for you directly from the federal government.

It's a good idea to have the same agent who writes your homeowner's or other insurance policies also write your flood insurance policy so in the event you need to file a claim, you only have to work with one insurance agency or company.

If your agent does not write flood insurance or you don't have an agent, you may call the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) toll free number to obtain the name of an agent in your area who does write flood insurance. The number is 1-888-379-9531. You can also check your local Yellow Pages directory.