With all the flooding due to overflowing rivers and
hurricanes in areas across the nation you may be thinking of buying flood
insurance. This is something you may want to check into and talk
over with your insurance agent about flood zones and premium amounts for your
However if you have flood insurance and
no longer feel the need to keep it and it was required by your lender.
PROBLEM: Are you in a flood zone? Are you sure? Perhaps
you bought a home that required flood insurance, then suddenly a year later (or
longer), your mortgage company sends you a letter stating you are no longer in
a flood zone and no longer required to have flood insurance. Most
people would call their insurance company to cancel the policy,
right? This is where you may have a problem. The insurance company will tell you their
hands are tied, they cannot cancel it and you will receive no money back from
the premium you paid. Or they may tell you, that you may be lucky and
fall into the FEMA Cancellation guidelines.
- double check your information. Enter your address to access the flood
map on the FEMA website:
If the zone was revised during your current policy
term (you were in a flood zone and it was re-mapped and you are no longer in a
flood zone) - FEMA's cancellation procedures are as follows (per their
Years Eligible for Refund: Current year in those
cases where the map was revised during the current policy term. If the insured
was required to renew the policy during the 6 months before or after the
effective date of the revised map, the insured may be eligible for a refund of
the prior year’s premium. For example, the flood policy was effective from
January 1, 2010, to January 1, 2011, and renewed January 1, 2011, to January 1,
2012. The effective date of the map change is February 15, 2011. The
cancellation will be effective January 1, 2010.
If a claim has been paid or is pending during a policy year for which
cancellation is requested, the policy cannot be canceled.
••Cancellation Request: Must be received during the policy year or within 6
months of the policy expiration date.
••Required Documentation: Statement from the mortgagee that insurance was
required as part of the mortgage but is no longer required, and a copy of the
Even if you are one of the unlucky
homeowners that were told by your mortgage company that you were in a flood
zone and required insurance and no longer have to carry flood insurance - Your
insurance company has limitations as they must follow the government
The only options you have if you have
never been in a flood zone but bought flood insurance are as follows:
- The flood insurance policy can be changed from
a STANDARD Flood Policy (required by mortgage company) to a PREFERRED
Flood Policy (slightly lower annual premium and not required by mortgage
- The insured's flood insurance company can go
back to NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) with 6 years of
documentation that they will do this once you change the policy to a
preferred policy. This will give you the difference in the
annual rate. For example: if the standard policy cost $505 for the
year and the preferred policy cost $395 for the year, they will
refund you $110.00 for that year. They will do this for all 6
- You may be able to go back to your mortgage
company and try to get the money back from them as they told you that
flood insurance was needed. Talk to management and be sure you
have all the documentation you need in order to get a proper retroactive
Your flood insurance company will have to submit
the paperwork to NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program).
While this may seem overwhelming, keep these tips
Don't get frustrated when trying
to get a refund.
Ask questions. If the
customer service representative you are speaking with gives you information you
don't understand and they get frustrated ask to speak to a manager so there is
no misunderstanding if the customer service representative can't answer to your
satisfaction. You may be talking to someone that has not handled this
process before and doesn't have all the answers, or the authority to handle the
situation. This is no one's fault just a fact of life.
Keep a pad of paper
next to you and record the company and person you are talking to.
Jot down notes of what was discussed in addition to the time and date,
along with the name and badge number or phone extension of who you spoke with.
Keep all documentation from
mortgage and insurance companies organized and paper clipped together for each
and every person you may talk to.
IF YOU HAVEN’T YET BOUGHT YOUR HOME: Don't take the mortgage company’s word, double check you are in a
flood zone and have your realtor get you the proper paperwork and have them
both double check the geography and zones. Do your own homework on the
This is important to do in order
to avoid the above situation. Once you buy the insurance you are not able
to cancel it and get your money back – so DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST. You can
only cancel it if you were in a flood zone and that zone changed within a
certain period of time, check regulations. If you are not in
a flood zone to begin with and you buy a standard flood policy (mortgage
required) these can be changed to a Preferred flood policy (slightly less
expensive) but they cannot be canceled only non-renewed. In other words,
you are stuck with this policy for the year or years you have it.
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