Homeowner’s insurance will generally cover you for water damage resulting from a broken pipe in the bathroom, but it will generally not cover you for damage from water that originates outside the home. Flood insurance is available nationally through FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and typically costs one to two times the cost of normal home owner’s insurance. Flood insurance coverage is available whether you are in a high risk zone or not. It can be valuable if your house is flooded by a break in a water main in the street, since you home owners insurance generally won’t cover you for this.
Though our area is relatively arid, there are flood hazard zones along most streams, even very small ones that you might not be aware of. These flood zones often spread over areas quite distance from the stream bed itself. Nearly all mortgage lenders will require a flood zone analysis and flood insurance when needed, but when you find this out from the lender it may be too late for you to back out of the deal if that’s what you want to do.
Not only will you have the added expense of flood insurance if you buy a home that’s in certain flood hazard zones, but flood risk is a significant resale issue for many home buyers. And in some areas, it is a real safety issue.
You can review the FEMA flood zone maps at city and county planning departments. For the City of Boulder, there are more detailed maps of flood zones that locate individual homes relative to the flood zones. These maps can be seen at the planning office (303-441-3270) or they can be accessed on line by selecting Floodplain Map on the city’s Floodplain page.