In the wake of flooding Wednesday night that affected consumers across Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) are sharing tips to help consumers familiarize themselves with flood insurance.

Flooding is the most common and expensive type of natural disaster in the United States, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Yet data from a 2016 FEMA report on active flood policy information revealed many Tennesseans are not covered by flood insurance.

“While flooding is a common threat across the United States, consumers can give their families greater peace of mind with flood insurance,” said TDCI Commissioner and NAIC Past President Julie Mix McPeak. “We urge Tennesseans to learn more about their flood risk and evaluate if flood insurance is right for them.”

Still, it is important to note that approximately 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from outside of high-risk flood zones. Remember: Where it can rain, it can flood. According to FEMA, an inch of water in a home could cause more than $25,000 in damages. If you experience flooding and have not purchased flood insurance, you will likely have to foot the bill for the damages.

Check your address on this interactive flood map

The FEMA flood map service allows you to determine your flood risk (click on the link, put your address in, and the latest flood risk map will come up. Risk levels are divided into three categories: High-risk areas, moderate- to low-risk areas, and undetermined risk areas. Many flood zones were recalculated in our area after the 2010 flood.

The most important thing to understand about flood insurance is what it isn’t. Flooding damages are not typically covered through most homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood insurance can be purchased through an agent or insurer participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which FEMA manages. If your agent or insurer doesn’t sell flood coverage, contact the NFIP Referral Call Center at 1-800-427-4661.

Please note: There are a few areas in Tennessee that do not participate in the NFIP program. If your community does not participate, FEMA assistance is not available. If flood insurance through the NFIP program is not available in your area, contact your licensed insurance agent to ask about private flood insurance. If you choose a private flood insurance policy, be sure to shop around to compare premiums and coverage.

Additionally, NFIP insurance policies do not go into effect immediately after you buy them. NFIP policies have a 30-day waiting period unless a policy is bought at the same time as a newly purchased home.

Contact your insurance provider to learn more about flood insurance, to learn if your community participates in the NFIP, or to get a quote.

What Should I Do in the Event of a Flood?

  • Have a plan. Learn the evacuation routes in your community. If you are staying in your home during a flood event, go to the highest level of your home. If you are outdoors, move to higher ground and take shelter, if necessary.
  • Prepare your home. Move items you want to protect to a higher floor and prepare to turn off your electricity.
  • Store your insurance information in a safe place. Regularly update your homeowners or renters insurance and maintain a home inventory to keep a record of your possessions. Also, keep track of records and receipts. (MyHome Scr.APP.book: Apple Store or Google Play)
  • Take pictures of any property damage. Try to prevent further damage by cleaning and drying wet items.
  • File a claim. Keep insurance agent and company contact information handy. Most insurance companies have a time requirement for reporting a claim, so contact your agent or company as soon as possible. Your state insurance department can help you find contact information for your company, if you cannot find it.
  • Beware of fraud. Protect yourself by getting more than one bid from contractors and requesting references. Ask for proof of necessary licenses, building permits, insurance and bonding. Record the contractor’s license plate and driver’s license numbers and check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Tennesseans can verify the license of contractors and other professionals by visiting verify.tn.gov.
  • Beware of flooded vehicle scams. After a flood, consumers should be alert for scammers who might disguise severely water-damaged vehicles as being perfectly good. Any person selling a flood vehicle is required by law prior to the sale of the vehicle to disclose such to the purchaser. Further, once titling that vehicle, the purchaser will receive a branded vehicle title indicating the vehicle’s salvage history. Remember: A vehicle’s flood history may take up to 30 days or longer to post on traditional consumer reporting sites. As such, the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission recommends that individuals purchase motor vehicles from a licensed motor vehicle dealer, which they can verify at verify.tn.gov.

For more information, consumers are encouraged to watch TDCI’s flood insurance video or visit tn.gov/commerce.

You can learn more about disaster preparedness at Insure U, the NAIC’s consumer education website.

About the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance: TDCI protects the interests of consumers while providing fair, efficient oversight and a level field of competition for a broad array of industries and professionals doing business in Tennessee. Our divisions include the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Insurance, Securities, Consumer Affairs, Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, Regulatory Boards, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, Tennessee Corrections Institute, and TennCare Oversight.

To check a license of a professional regulated by the Department, go to http://verify.tn.gov/.

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