Information for Prospective Buyers

Who may 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.

Renters may buy contents-only or personal property flood insurance. Condominium coverage is also available anywhere in a qualifying community. Buildings under construction may also be eligible for coverage.

What types of property may be insured against flood loss?

Almost every type of walled and roofed building that is principally above ground and not entirely over water may be insured if it is in a participating community. In most cases, this includes manufactured (i.e., mobile) homes that are anchored to permanent foundations and travel trailers without wheels that are anchored to permanent foundations and are regulated under the community's floodplain management and building ordinances or laws. (However, this does not include converted buses or vans.) Contents of insurable walled and roofed buildings also may be insured under separate coverage.

What kinds of property are not insurable under the NFIP?

Buildings entirely over water or principally below ground, gas and liquid storage tanks, animals, birds, fish, aircraft, wharves, piers, bulkheads, growing crops, shrubbery, land, livestock, roads, machinery or equipment in the open and motor vehicles are not insurable. Most contents and finishing materials located in a basement or in enclosures below the lowest elevated floor of an elevated building constructed after the Floor Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) became effective are not covered. Information on the insurability of any special property may be obtained by contacting a property insurance agent or broker.

Are there certain buildings that cannot be covered?

Flood insurance is not available for buildings that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) determines have declared by a state or local zoning authority or other authorized authority to be in violation of state or local floodplain management regulations or ordinances. No new policies can be written to cover such buildings; nor can an existing policy be renewed.

New construction or substantially improved structures located within a designated Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) are not eligible for flood insurance, but existing structures that pre-date CBRS designation are eligible for flood insurance coverage. These areas are located in nearly 400 communities on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and along the Great Lakes shores, and are delineated on the communities flood maps. If, at the time of a loss, it is determined the building is located in a CBRS area, the claim will be denied, the policy canceled, and the premium refunded.

Can I buy flood insurance if my home is located in a high-risk flood area?

You can buy flood insurance no matter where you live, as long as your community participates in the NFIP, except in Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) areas.

Can I get flood insurance if I'm renting a property?

If you live in a community that participates in the NFIP, you may be qualified to get flood insurance to cover the contents of your home or business.

I live in a low-risk flood zone. Do I really need flood insurance?

It is a good idea to buy flood insurance even if you live in a low- or moderate-risk area. Almost 25% of all flood insurance claims come from areas with minimal flood risk. You may qualify for the Preferred Risk Policy (a low-cost flood insurance policy). Contact your insurance agent for more information about the Preferred Risk Policy.

Is it true that only residents of high-risk flood zones need to insure their property?

Even if you live in a medium- or low-risk area, it's advisable to have flood insurance. Between 20% and 25% of the NFIP's flood insurance claims come from areas not considered to be high-risk. The NFIP has a special policy, available for as little as $119 per year, for residential properties located in low- to moderate-risk flood zones.

Can I buy flood insurance if my property was previously flooded?

It doesn't matter how many times your home, apartment, or business has been flooded. You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance, provided that your community is participating in the NFIP.

How do I buy flood insurance?

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. In those instances, the insurance company handles the premium billing and collection, policy issuance, and loss adjustment on behalf of the federal government. These insurance companies are called Write Your Own (WYO) (http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/wyo.shtm) insurers. 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.