What is the waiting period for flood insurance?

The waiting period for NFIP flood insurance is 30 days from the purchase date. But private flood insurance goes active in as little as 10-14 days.

Pat Howard 1600


Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a senior editor at Policygenius specializing in property and casualty insurance. His work has been featured on Property Casualty 360, Fatherly, MarketWatch, and more.

Published September 11, 2019|2 min read

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Like homeowners insurance, disability insurance and health insurance, flood insurance has a waiting period before the policy takes effect. That means if your home and personal belongings are damaged by flooding within the designated waiting period, you won’t receive a flood insurance payout.

But how long is the typical flood insurance waiting period? It depends on what kind of flood insurance you’re buying and the circumstances of your insurance needs.

Standard flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has a waiting period of 30 days. However, if flood coverage is required by your lender in connection with a new mortgage or refinance, there is no waiting period. Private market flood insurance can have a waiting period as short as 10-14 days, so if you’re buying last-minute protection in advance of hurricane season, a private flood insurance policy could be the way to go.

Key Takeaways

  • When you buy flood insurance, there’s a waiting period between the time you buy the policy and the time it becomes active

  • The waiting period for NFIP flood insurance is 30 days, but there are some exceptions

  • The waiting period for private flood insurance is typically 10-14 days

What is the waiting period for NFIP flood insurance?

The waiting period for an NFIP flood insurance policy is 30 days, so plan far in advance of the rainy season. If you live in a coastal area that is susceptible to hurricanes, you’ll want to buy flood insurance by May 1st — a full 30 days before the start of hurricane season.

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What are the exceptions to the waiting period?

The waiting period for NFIP flood insurance is typically 30 days, but there are a few instances where your policy may start sooner:

  • If your home is located in a newly-established high-risk flood zone or Special Flood Hazard Area, and you buy flood insurance within 13 months of the flood map revision, you have a one-day waiting period.

  • If you buy flood insurance because it’s required for a new home loan or a mortgage refinance or extension, there is no waiting period.

  • If you add more coverage to your flood insurance policy when it is up for renewal, there is no waiting period.

  • If your house or personal property is affected by flooding on burned federal land, and your flood insurance policy is purchased within 60 days of the fire containment, there is a possible waiver of the waiting period.

What is the waiting period for private flood insurance?

Private market flood insurance is a considerable alternative to NFIP coverage for a number of reasons: it often provides higher coverage limits and additional coverages not available through the NFIP, it may be cheaper depending on where you live, and your policy can become active in as little as 10-14 days of the policy purchase date.

Private flood insurance typically has the same exceptions to waiting periods as NFIP flood insurance policies, so if you recently bought a home or refinanced your mortgage, you won’t have a waiting period.

Can you buy flood insurance during a flood?

There are no restrictions on when you can purchase a policy, only restrictions on when the policy will be able to go into effect. That means if your home is completely inundated by flooding, you can still protect it with flood insurance, it just won’t be covered for the prior flood damage (or any damage that occurs during the waiting period).

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