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Hurricane Irma: What you need to know about flood insurance

Homeowners scared by Harvey and in the potential path of Irma can't get National Flood Insurance Program coverage immediately because of a typical 30-day waiting period.

They still might be able to buy it on the private market with as little as three days' wait, said Tony Barletta, owner of the Barletta Agency of Brightway Insurance in Stuart, Fla.

It depends on whether the homeowner qualifies for a specific company's policy and a variety of other factors, Barletta said. And it's not even guaranteed to be availa


In Florida, there are 20 insurance companies writing primary or excess flood insurance outside the federal government-provided National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation's website.

Some of these companies write a limited number of policies or only certain types of policies, such as for high-value homes.

"In some cases it's less expensive and in some cases it's more expensive than the NFIP," Barletta said.

The basic policy

The basic National Flood insurance program policy for homeowners costs $450 per year and covers up to $250,000 in damage to the building and up to $100,000 in damage to the contents, Barletta said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency sets the price, and it's not negotiable.

Homeowners who live a flood-prone area would pay more, Barletta and other insurance experts said.

On D Treasure Coast, 57,433 homeowners had valid flood insurance policies as of June 30, FEMA statistics show.

A crucial mistake some homeowners make nationwide is thinking their homeowners insurance covers flooding from high waters, said Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. He encouraged property owners to have flood insurance for their homes and businesses.

“Many residents of our state experienced substantial property damage and losses last year from flooding caused by Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew,” Altmaier said in a prepared statement in April.

“Even a small amount of rising water can cause serious flooding, so it is important to evaluate your insurance coverage now and plan ahead for the upcoming hurricane season.”

Get a quote

The vast majority of flood insurance in Florida is administered through the NFIP, which often can be bought from an insurance agent or company, Altmaier said.

Flooding caused by rainwater is generally covered by homeowners insurance, while flooding caused by rising waters is not, said Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst for insuranceQuote of Austin, Texas, which enables consumers to compare insurance quotes online.

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