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Home > Consumers > Flood > Myths and misconceptions
Myths and misconceptions


Myth: Only those people living in a flood plain need to be concerned about flooding.

It is a common misconception that people living in a designated flood plain are the only ones who need to worry about flooding. Recent experience in North Dakota has taught us that locations outside the flood plain are susceptible to flooding, in particular, flash flooding.

Myth: If I have direct flood damage to my home my homeowner's policy will cover me.

The standard homeowner insurance policy language clearly indicates that flood is excluded. The unpredictability and severity of flood events is so significant that regular insurance companies are unable and unwilling to provide coverage for flood. It is noteworthy that sewer and sump pump failure, as well as underground seepage, are also excluded. However, many insurance companies have elected to offer the ability to buy an endorsement with a limited amount of coverage for sewer or sump system failure

Myth: If I have a sewer or sump pump endorsement to my policy I will be covered in the event of a flood.

A sewer or sump pump endorsement on your policy does not mean you have coverage for flood. Most companies make it clear that they still do not cover flood damage only sewer damage. Some companies make it clear if flood is the cause directly or indirectly of the sewer or sump pump failure they will not cover any of the damage. Purchasing a sewer or sump pump endorsement should not be viewed as a purchase of flood insurance.

Myth: Since my mortgage company does not require me to have flood insurance I shouldn't have to worry about flooding.

Mortgage companies that issue federally regulated mortgage loans by law must require borrowers whose property is in a designated flood zone (Special Flood Hazard Area) to carry National Flood Insurance. However, loans that are not regulated by a federal program do not have this requirement. Further, experience has shown that not all mortgage companies have complied with this requirement and may not have required insurance when they should have. Since flooding can occur in areas other then just the designated flood zone, a consumer should avoid this false assumption.

Myth: We experienced a once in a 500 year flood in 1997 so I shouldn't have to worry about flood again during my lifetime.

The use of the terms "100 year floodplain" or "500 year floodplain" have created a false sense of security in the public. If your are in a 100 year floodplain it means that every year you have 1% chance that it will flood. So in the case where a flood event of a 500 year proportion occurred in 1997 it doesn't mean we will not have another flood of this magnitude for another 500 years. If conditions were right, i.e. ground saturation, snowpack, timing and duration of the spring thaw, storms, ice jams, etc., an occurrence of that magnitude could happen again.

Myth: You can't buy flood insurance if you are located in a high flood-risk area.

You can buy National Flood Insurance no matter where you live if your community participates in the NFIP (except in the Coastal Barrier Resources System areas). The program was created in 1968 to provide flood insurance to people who live in areas with greatest risk of flooding called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA). In fact, lenders providing a federally-regulated mortgage loan must require borrowers in the SFHA to purchase flood insurance.

Myth: You can't buy flood insurance immediately before or during a flood.

You can purchase flood coverage at any time. However, for most applicants there is a 30-day waiting period after you've applied and paid premium before the policy is effective. There are some exceptions to this waiting period requirement so it is recommended you discuss this with an agent to determine if you are eligible. The policy does not cover a "loss in progress," defined as a loss occurring as of 12:01 a.m. on the first day of the policy.

Myth: Homeowners insurance policies cover flooding.

Homeowner's policies do not cover direct physical loss caused by flood.

Myth: Flood insurance is only available for homeowners.

Flood insurance is available to protect homes, condominiums, apartments and nonresidential buildings, including commercial structures. Residential structures, including condominiums, may be insured to a maximum of $250,000 per unit. The limit for contents on residential building is $100,000, which is also available to renters. Commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for the contents.

Myth: You can't buy flood insurance if your property has been flooded.

You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance after your home, apartment or business has been flooded, provided that your community is participating in the NFIP.

Myth: Only residents of high-flood-risk zones need to insure their property.

Even if you live in an area that is not flood-prone, it is advisable to have flood insurance. Between 20 percent and 25 percent of the NFIP's claims come from outside high-flood-risk areas. The NFIP's Preferred Risk Policy, available for just over $100 per year, is designed for residential properties located in low to moderate-flood-risk zones.

Myth: National Flood Insurance can only be purchased through the NFIP directly.

NFIP flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and agents, and is backed by the federal government.

Myth: The NFIP does not offer any type of basement coverage.

Yes it does. The NFIP defines a basement as any area of a building with a floor that is below ground level on all sides. While flood insurance does not cover basement improvements, such as finished walls, floors or ceilings, or personal belongings that may be kept in a basement, (ie; furniture or clothing), it does cover structural elements, essential equipment and other basic items normally located in a basement. Many of these items are covered under the building coverage, and some are covered under the contents coverage portion of the policy. The NFIP encourages people to purchase both building and contents coverage for the broadest protection.

Myth: Federal disaster assistance will pay for flood damage.

Before a community is eligible for disaster assistance, it must be declared a federal disaster area. Federal disaster assistance declarations are issued in less than 50 percent of flooding incidents. The premium for an NFIP policy averages little more than $300 a year, which is less expensive than interest on a federal disaster loan. Not all federal disaster aid in is the form of grants. Most of the aid is in the form of low interest rate loans that must be paid back. Furthermore, if you are uninsured and receive federal disaster assistance after a flood, you must purchase flood insurance to remain eligible for any future disaster relief.

Myth: The NFIP does not cover flooding resulting from hurricanes or the overflow of rivers or tidal waters.

The NFIP defines covered flooding as a general and temporary condition during which the surface of normally dry land is partially or completely inundated. Two properties in the area or two or more acres must be affected. Flooding can be caused by:


  • The overflow of inland or tidal waters.
  • The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, such as heavy rainfall, or mudslides, i.e., mudflows, caused by flooding, that could be described as a river of liquid and flowing mud and the collapse or destabilization of land along the shore of a lake or other body of water, resulting from erosion or the effect of waves, or water currents exceeding normal, cyclical levels.

Myth: Wind-driven rain is considered flooding.

No, it isn't. Rain entering through wind-damaged windows, doors or a hole in a wall or the roof, resulting in standing water or puddles, is considered windstorm (rather than flood) damage. National Flood Insurance only covers damage caused by the general condition of flooding typically caused by storm surge, wave wash, tidal waves or the overflow of any body of water over normally dry land areas. Buildings that sustain this type of damage usually have a watermark, showing how high the water rose before it subsided. The standard flood policy does not cover wind or hail damage.



North Dakota Insurance Department
600 E. Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, ND 58505-0320
Phone 701.328.2440
Toll free 800.247.0560
Fax 701.328.4880

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