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How Do Insurance Carriers Define Flood?

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

It is important to review your flood insurance policy to ensure you understand how the carrier is defining flood. Definitions can vary depending on the carrier you’ve chosen.

The NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program), administered by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) defines flood as follows: A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder's property...

Many other private carriers have copied the NFIP’s definition of flood, as well as other definitions, making them NFIP look-alike policies.

An NCIP policy from has a broader definition of flood that triggers coverage more easily. NCIP defines flood as follows: Flood means physical damage caused by a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from surface water...

What does this mean for your client?

Because of NFIP's strict definition of flood, this can create instances of homes and businesses being flooded but not triggering coverage. For example, a home next to a river that overflows, but does not cover 2 or more acres, or another property. In this case, the NFIP would not consider this a flood event.

It is important to review your entire policy for things that will matter to your client. For example, the NFIP does not typically cover contents that are below grade (i.e. in a basement). Hurricane Sandy caused devastation throughout many areas, including New York, where hundreds of claims were denied. Many restaurants that included a step down to enter had all their contents below grade. For them, it meant that their contents were not covered, making it impossible to reopen.

When providing your insureds with a policy, please make them aware of exactly what is and isn’t covered. The definition of flood may very well end up being a significant factor when choosing a policy.

If you have further questions about the definition of flood, feel free to email our customer service team at

Disclaimer: The content on this site is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to be relied on or used in place of professional advice. We do not endorse, assume responsibility for, or guarantee the accuracy of the content. All liability is expressly disclaimed.


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