Part of the reason most of us live in and around the Tampa Bay area is so we can be close to the water. Between the Gulf of Mexico, the bay, the Intracoastal Waterway and the bayous, lakes, and rivers...we’re surrounded by water.

It’s not a bad life.

With all that water, though, comes the risk of flooding. Whether you’re new to the area or you’re finally ready to buy your piece of paradise, you need to know as much as possible about flood insurance.

Homeowner’s Insurance Isn’t Enough

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover flood damage. Damage from a burst pipe should be covered. Two inches of water in your living room because of a flash flood after a heavy rain? You’re going to need flood insurance. Note: Discuss the specifics of your current insurance policy with your insurance agent to learn exactly what’s covered and what isn’t.

You’ll Have to Wait 30 Days

If the last rain storm made you nervous, and you’re ready to buy a policy before the next storm comes through, you’ll have a 30 day waiting period before your policy goes into effect. There are very few exceptions to this rule.

It’s Only Available Through the NFIP

The NFIP or the National Flood Insurance Program is a federal program that offers flood insurance. You can buy flood insurance through your insurance agent, but as of right now, there is no other organization that makes this kind of insurance available. Realtors recently testified in front of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship committee regarding recommended changes to the NFIP. One of those recommendations is to allow the private market to sell flood insurance.

Flood Insurance is Required for Some Homeowners

If your home is in a high risk flood zone and you have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender, you will be required to purchase flood insurance. It is strongly recommended for anyone living in moderate-to-low risk zones, too.

Everyone Lives in a Flood Zone

Not everyone lives in a high risk area and not everyone will have their entire home flooded in one bad storm, but everyone has some risk. More than 20 percent of flood insurance claims are from moderate-to-low risk zones. The average cost of a flood insurance claim is $30,000.

Make sure you understand what your current insurance policy covers and what it doesn’t, and if you don’t have flood insurance, it may be time to consider a policy. You’ll want to talk to your insurance agent to figure out the details and what you really need. It pays to understand your coverage so you can protect your home from the very real threat of flooding and the costs of flood damage.