Buy flood insurance to protect a basement?

March 21, 2008

My house isn't in a high-risk flood zone, but lately we've been getting some water in the basement during heavy storms due to construction in the area. Since we'd like to refinish the room with new carpeting and wallpaper, I'm tempted to buy flood insurance. Would it be worthwhile?

My house isn't in a high-risk flood zone, but lately we've been getting some water in the basement during heavy storms due to construction in the area. Since we'd like to refinish the room with new carpeting and wallpaper, I'm tempted to buy flood insurance. Would it be worthwhile?

Not if your primary goal is to protect those improvements. Assuming yours is a true basement-meaning the floor is partially or fully underground on all four sides-standard flood insurance won't cover the carpeting, wall coverings, or any other furnishings or personal belongings in that space. But damage to the home's structure, critical equipment (such as a water heater, oil tank, or circuit breakers), and appliances normally found in a basement (such as a washer, dryer, or spare food freezer) would be covered. So if you can't prevent the water problem, you may still want to consider buying flood insurance. The annual premium for "building and contents" coverage in a low-to-moderate-risk flood zone runs $317 or less, depending on the coverage amount. Visit http://www.floodsmart.gov/, the website of the National Flood Insurance Program, for further information.