When To Purchase Flood Insurance

If you are in an area where you think you might need flood insurance, you also might be wondering if and when the best time to purchase is. Like many Americans, the threat of a flood may always seem far off but if you are in an area that has any flood risk, the best time to consider making the investment is as soon as possible.

Home insurance will not pay to repair damage caused by flooding, which is why you’ll need to buy separate flood insurance to cover tropical storms, torrential rain and overflowing rivers. It’s the smart move to buy flood insurance before flooding becomes imminent, because there is typically a waiting period between the time you buy your policy and the time it takes effect.

Waiting period for flood insurance

If you buy your flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program, your home coverage will kick in 30 days from the purchase date. If you decide to buy private flood insurance, the waiting period might be shorter - typically around 2 weeks. Because not every state/area has private sellers, you will want to ask your home insurer or agent about options in your area. Unfortunately if flooding occurs during the blackout period, your policy won’t pay to fix damage to your home or belongings.

When the waiting period doesn’t apply

Here are some scenarios that are exceptions to the NFIP waiting period, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

  • You have flood insurance and increase your coverage at renewal time. The new limits of your policy will take effect once your old policy expires.
  • You buy flood insurance within 13 months after your home is added to a Special Flood Hazard Area. The waiting period is one day in these cases.
  • Your home sits on burned federal land and post-wildfire conditions put your property at an increased risk of flooding. There may be no waiting period if you buy your policy within 60 days of the date the fire is contained.
  • You buy flood insurance in relation to getting, increasing, extending or renewing your mortgage. There’s no waiting period in these cases.

There might also be exceptions to the waiting periods for private policies, including if you’re switching from an NFIP policy to a private one. You will want to ask your insurer for more details.

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