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Navigating Flood Insurance: How REALTORS(R) Can Help Clients Protect Their Homes

By MaryAnn Tierney FEMA Region 3 Regional Administrator  

Purchasing a home can be an exciting, yet overwhelming, process for first-time and seasoned homebuyers alike. As a REALTOR®, you serve a critical role in guiding your clients through this process, which includes providing information about flood risk and flood insurance. At FEMA, we are always talking about the importance of flood insurance, when clients hear it directly from a trusted REALTOR(R), it can make a big difference.  

Should Your Client Purchase Flood Insurance? Absolutely. Flooding can happen anywhere and at any time with little to no warning. Here are three ways you can help your client: 

1. Identify their flood risk. Encourage buyers to look up their address on Maryland’s flood tool at to see if their property is on a floodplain. Inform your clients that flood risks can change over time and that even small streams can pose a risk to their property.

2. Share information early. Encourage sellers to disclose flood risk information and ask buyers to get a quote for flood insurance early in the process. 

3. Understand flood insurance coverage. Most standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not include flood damage. Unfortunately, many homeowners learn they are not covered when it’s too late. Advise your clients to talk with an insurance agent about flood insurance coverage. 

What if the property is outside the floodplain? Should you still encourage your client to consider flood insurance? The answer is yes. In fact, 40% of flood insurance claims come from outside of high-risk flood zones. 

National Flood Insurance Program & Risk Rating 2.0: Benefits for Your Clients

The National Flood Insurance Program provides flood insurance policies that can protect both a building and its contents. Last year, FEMA completed a holistic update to the way it prices flood insurance policies across the country. This effort, called Risk Rating 2.0, was endorsed by the National Association of REALTORS®, and has three primary benefits for your clients:

1. Rates are more specific to the flood risk for each property, rather than generic flood zones. 

2. Elevation certificates are no longer required for flood insurance rating. 

3. Now, people can get a quote for flood insurance in a matter of minutes. This means the cost of a flood insurance policy can be determined earlier in the loan underwriting process, minimizing complications at closing. 

What Other Ways Can Clients Mitigate Their Flood Risk?

If you have a client that has or could suffer flood damage, help them minimize their flooding risk and protect their investment. 

1. Elevate Utilities Above the Flood Height. Elevate or floodproof mechanical units, furnaces, water heaters, electrical systems, and other utilities on masonry, concrete, or pressure-treated lumber at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation (expected height of flood waters). 

2. Install Flood Vents. Install flood vents in foundation walls, garages, and other enclosed areas to allow water to flow through, drain out, and lower the risk of structural damage. Don’t use flood prone spaces as living areas in a home.

3. Use Flood Resistant Materials. Tiles are more food-resistant than carpet. Water-resistant wall materials are better than dry wall. Using these materials makes cleaning easier and reduces mold. 

4. Store Valuables: Store valuables and important documents in waterproof or water-resistant containers on an upper floor. Make copies and store them online or offsite.

April is Flood Awareness Month

Each year, we partner with Maryland on a Flood Awareness Month in April. This year, we’re excited to focus one week on flood information for first-time homebuyers, April 17-21, 2023. Agencies will be sharing information on their social media platforms, hosting virtual events, and providing digital resources. Look out for information on Twitter @FEMAregion3 and @MD_Insurance. 

Over the past few years, we’ve been encouraged by our growing partnership with Maryland REALTORS®. We appreciate the valuable role the Association and its members play, not only by helping people find their perfect home, but also in making sure they protect their investment. The key is to start the conversation early and educate your clients about their options. By doing so, you can help them purchase a home with confidence, knowing they have taken the necessary steps to protect their property and finances.

Here at FEMA, we are committed to helping people before, during, and after disasters. We hope this information will help your client when it comes to protecting their home and their future. 

MaryAnn Tierney is FEMA’s Region 3 Regional Administrator.

Sidebar: Learn More about Flood Awareness

Follow these links for more information. 

Flood Insurance for Real Estate Professionals

Maryland Flood Awareness Month

MIA Flood Insurance

Know Your Risk: MD Flood Maps


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