Insurance Policy and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. It specifies what the insurance company agrees to do in exchange for the premium you pay. It also describes your responsibilities and the terms of coverage. The contract is divided into two basic sections: a declarations page and the policy itself. The declarations page is usually the first part of an insurance policy and includes basic details of the agreement. The second part of your insurance contract is the policy itself which included insuring agreements and conditions. Unlike automobile insurance, you are not required by law to purchase homeowners insurance. However, if you are financing your home, your lender will require you to purchase insurance to protect its financial interest. Lenders will buy an insurance policy to cover your home if you don’t maintain insurance coverage in accordance with the terms of your loan agreement. The loan documents you sign may require you to maintain coverage. If coverage is required but not maintained, the lender will place coverage on the property called force-placed insurance, to protect their interest in the property and charge you for this coverage. The loan documents will spell out specifically what must be covered and how proof of coverage is to be submitted to the lender or the company servicing the loan. Any house can be covered by a flood insurance policy. It does not matter if it is in the mapped floodplain or out of it. Detached garages and accessory buildings are covered under the policy for the lot’s main building. Separate coverage can be obtained for the building’s structure and for its contents (except for money, valuable papers, and the like). The structure generally includes everything that stays with a house when it is sold, including the furnace, cabinets, built-in appliances, and wall-to-wall carpeting. There is no coverage for things outside the house, like the driveway and landscaping. Renters can buy contents coverage, even if the owner does not buy structural coverage on the building. Plumbing-related leaks can cause catastrophic loss in terms of direct damage to property and interruption of tenant/occupant businesses, not to mention increased insurance costs. Most flood insurance policies are administered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federal program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). NFIP policies are separate from homeowners or property insurance, but are often sold through the same agents. A few private insurers also offer flood insurance, but these policies tend to be more expensive and less available.