Where -- and why -- to find flood coverage

Another post for National Flood Safety Awareness Week: Here in the rainy Northwest, we can't say this often enough: a standard homeowners insurance policy does NOT cover flooding.

The good news is that flood insurance is widely available through the National Flood Insurance Program. It's a federally run insurance program, but sold by local agents and brokers. For most homeowners, the NFIP is the first stop for flood coverage.

If you live in an area with a high chance of flooding (a "Special Flood Hazard Area"), your lender will generally require you to have flood insurance. Even if you live in a minimal or moderate flood hazard area, you may still want to buy it.

There are, however, limits to federal flood insurance. For commercial structures, for example, the NFIP maximum is $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for the contents. Businesses also may need additional coverage that isn't available through the NFIP, such as business interruption coverage.

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