How is "Flood" Defined?

Flood insurance covers loss of insured property resulting directly from flooding. "Flood" is defined in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP), in part, as:

A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
  • Mudflow; or
  • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.

So, in plain English, a flood is an excess of water (or mud) on land that's normally dry. Floods often happen when bodies of water overflow or tides rise due to heavy rainfall or thawing snow. But you don't have to live near water to be at risk for flooding. A flash flood, which can strike anywhere without warning, occurs when a large volume of rain falls within a short time.

More and more buildings, roads and parking lots are being built where forests and meadows used to be, which decreases the land's natural ability to absorb water. Coupled with changing weather patterns, this construction has made recent floods more severe and increased everyone's chance of being flooded.

Dangerous or damaging floods don't always mean dramatic, rushing waters through the streets of your hometown. Just a single inch of water can cause costly damage to your home! Keep this in mind when you're considering flood insurance.