Author: Peter Covill

Should I buy a home in a flood zone?

There are a lot of things to consider when buying a home. Flood insurance should be one of them. First off… EVERY home is in a flood zone. Some zones are higher risk than others. If you are in a Special Flood Hazard Area, you would be required to purchase flood insurance by your mortgage company. Even if you do not have a mortgage or your bank does not require you to buy flood insurance, you should consider the possible risk. If you are in a low-lying area, near a stream or river or right on the ocean, you should think about purchasing flood insurance. Remember, 20-25% of all flood claims are not in a special flood hazard area and the average flood claim is over $50,000!

Some considerations are what is the actual risk of the home flooding? How near to the water is the home? What is the elevation of the home? Does it have a full basement, crawlspace, slab or are you built up on piers or columns? The construction of your home has a big impact on flood rates. We can advise you as to which flood zone your property is in. We have software that can tell us exactly what the elevation of the house is and what the potential of your home sustaining a flood is.

You should inquire with the seller or the seller’s realtor if the property has been flooded in the past. This will give you some idea as to whether to buy the house. If it is in a low, flood-prone area, you may want to think twice about it. Sure, you can get flood insurance, but do you really want a house that floods frequently?

How will it affect my resale value? If you are looking at a home in a Special Flood Hazard Area, ask the seller or the seller’s realtor if they currently have a flood policy on the property. If they do, is the policy grandfathered into a lower flood zone? If it is, you may want to consider keeping their policy. All National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies are transferable to a new owner. Even though the policy is grandfathered, you may still be able to get a lower premium in the private market. If you choose to purchase a private market policy to protect your home, it is NOT transferable like an NFIP policy. But from a resale standpoint, any prospective buyer will want to see how much a flood insurance policy is going to cost. Even though they are not transferable, we can write a new policy for a buyer for similar pricing.

Another important thing to ask is if the seller has an Elevation Certificate on the property. Chances are if the property was built after 1976, there is an Elevation Certificate on file. If the seller can’t find a copy, the building department may have a copy on record from when the property was built. If the property was built after 1976, in order to get an NFIP flood quote, they would require an Elevation Certificate to get a quote. This is NOT the case in the Private Market! We do NOT need an elevation certificate to quote a flood policy in the private market. HOWEVER, an elevation certificate could help to lower the rate.

There are also many things you can do to mitigate a flood hazard. Does the property have a sea wall? Is there anything between you and the ocean to slow or stop flood waters? Does the home have flood vents or break-away walls? Where are the utility services located? Are they in the basement, crawlspace or on the first floor? Are they elevated up? All of this information can be found on the elevation certificate.

Typical Flood Vent

Know what you are getting yourself into BEFORE you make an offer on a home. You will find that the premiums in the private market are 25-75% less than NFIP! Call us to get a sample homeowners and flood insurance quote.


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Why doesn’t every insurance agent jump on the Private Market Flood Insurance band wagon?

Insurance agents who don’t sell it all the time, just are not educated enough with the product. It is constantly changing. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires a lengthy application and any property built after 1976, requires an elevation certificate to quote. That’s right, we can’t even quote a NFIP policy without an elevation certificate from an engineer. Elevation certificate’s cost anywhere from $750 – $1,000!  In the Private Market Flood (PMF), we do NOT need an Elevation Certificate! Sometimes they help to get the price down a bit, but we do not need them! Most all agents have an NFIP contract and most have access to the Private Market through one of their wholesalers.

So why don’t you hear more about PMF?  It boils down to money! Lost commission to be exact. Imagine the effect on an agent’s flood book.  Half the premium for half the commission means a huge loss of income!

For me, I have seen the effect of what PMF can do! It can help a realtor finally sell a property; or a homeowner finally sell their property or a buyer finally buy their dream house. What has impacted me the most is helping an elderly couple be able to stay in their home. They couldn’t afford their flood insurance anymore, so they made the agonizing decision to sell their home. I was able to save them THOUSANDS and gave them the ability to stay in their home! Never in my career have I experienced such joy in what I do!

I became obsessed with helping others! The average savings of a PMF policy is more than 50%. I have seen NFIP policies north of $10,000 and my PMF policy is $1,500! The savings are absolutely LIFE CHANGING! I became more than an insurance agent protecting people’s properties and assets. I brought life changing savings!

I wrote a commercial building recently. They had $500,000 coverage. Their premium was $21,000! We wrote $2,000,000 for $10,000! We wrote a non-profit building right on the beach. We saved them $20,000! For a non-profit, those savings are LIFE CHANGING!

Moral of the story… PMF has been LIFE CHANGING for me! It is not every day as an insurance agent where I can impact so many lives. The stories are amazing! It fuels me! It gives me joy to get out of bed every day. Who can I help today?

Are you drowning in your flood insurance premiums? Let the #floodwhisperer help.

Give us a call at: (508) 997-3321 or visit our website at:

Pete & Lisa Humphrey Covil and Coleman Insurance, New Bedford

What is a “Write Your Own” carrier?

The WYO program allows participating property and casualty insurance companies to write and service the standard flood insurance policy in their own names. The federal government’s program, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) retains the responsibility for underwriting and claims. WYO is an NFIP/FEMA program. All coverages are the same and all policy wording is the same. The underwriting and rates are all dictated by NFIP. There are dozens of carriers that participate in this program. Some of the more common names are: Hartford, Allstate, Assurant, Mapfre, UPC, Farmers and several others.

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What Private Market Flood Insurance carriers do we use?

We currently use over 15 different PMF carriers and markets.  We have painstakingly searched the marketplace for the best carriers available. We are constantly adding new markets.

Most of them are surplus lines carriers. A surplus lines insurance carrier protects against a financial risk that is too high for a regular insurance company. Surplus lines carriers are generally not licensed in the state. Meaning, they do not partake in the state’s guarantee fund.  Basically, if an insurance carrier goes “belly-up”, the state has a guarantee fund. Surplus lines carriers are not in this fund.  That said, we choose carriers that are financially strong and have at least an “A” rating by AM Best, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

Several of our markets use Lloyds of London. The technical term for Lloyds is “Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London”. There are hundreds if not thousands of Lloyds syndicates. In lay terms, it is a group of underwriters agreeing to take a portion of a risk. There can be one underwriter or several dozen that enjoin together to accept a risk. So, we have probably a half dozen different Lloyds syndicates that we work with. So, if you are in Lloyds now, chances are that our rate would be very different than yours.  We also work with a few admitted carriers.

Give us a call at: (508) 997-3321 or visit our website at:

Pete & Lisa Humphrey Covil and Coleman Insurance, New Bedford

Do my Private Market Flood Insurance premiums go up every year?

This is hard to say.  We have seen very small increases to renewal premiums (2-5%). Conversely, we have seen 25% increases on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies. And that is 25% every year! The Private Market is not capped at 25% like NFIP though. If we have a major flooding event here in New England, all bets are off. There just isn’t enough historical evidence as to how they would respond to a catastrophic event. I am confident that it won’t be huge increases. You  can always go back to an NFIP policy as a last resort and remember we do have over 15 different Private Flood Markets.

Give us a call at: (508) 997-3321 or visit our website at:

Can I cancel a Private Market Flood Insurance policy and go back to NFIP?

It is actually much easier to cancel a Private Market Flood Insurance (PMF) policy than an National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy. There are a lot of restrictions to cancel a NFIP policy mid-term. Your PMF policy has a 25% minimum earned clause. It basically means that they keep 25% of the premium if you cancel mid-term. So, you cannot cancel until after 3 months and expect a return premium. After 3 months, you can cancel for a pro-rata return premium. They do keep any fees associated with writing the policy, but you do get a pro-rated return of the premium.

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Is a Private Market Flood Insurance policy the same as NFIP?

Private Market Flood Insurance policies are as good if not better than their NFIP cousins.

The government has mandated that all Private Market Flood (PMF) Insurance policies are exactly the same as National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies. In fact, PMF policies are a lot better. You can purchase up to $2,000,000 on the building or $500,000 in contents. The maximum amount of dwelling coverage you can purchase on an NFIP policy is only $250,000 and you can only purchase $100,000 of Contents coverage.  You have several deductible choices on a PMF policy. $1,000  to $100,000.

You can purchase coverage for “Loss of Use”/ Temporary Living Expense. If you have a flood and have to move out of your home for a few months while rebuilding, you can have some coverage to live in a hotel. Other options include Pool Repair and Refill, Basement Contents, Unattached Structures and Replacement Cost Contents. PMF has shorter waiting periods too. An NFIP policy has a 30 day wait, where a PMF policy typically has a 10 day wait. The waiting period is waived in both instances for a loan closing. This protects insurance companies from people running out and buying flood insurance the day before a hurricane is predicted to hit.

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Why is Private Market Flood Insurance so much less than NFIP / FEMA?

The Details

First of all, the NFIP is currently $25 BILLION dollars in debt! It is a government mandated program. Everyone has access to it. No matter how many times your home floods out and floats away, FEMA and the NFIP are there to bail you out and insure you again and again. How can any business model sustain this? The government keeps on bailing them out. NFIP is so expensive because we are subsidizing all of those other properties in Florida or along the Mississippi river that flood out every year. PMF carriers can be choosier as to what properties they will write. They have used satellite technology to map out every property in the country. They know exactly the elevation of your home and the chances it will flood.  They have developed sonar technology to be able to better price flood insurance. They rate based on the actual risk, not the area, flood zone or proximity to coast.
LiDAR satellite data integration

Many of our PMF carriers use LiDAR technology. This is the same technology used by NASA and the US government. LiDAR includes satellite and aircraft data integration. By imaging light detection and remote sensing radar, accurate digital land survey maps create a precise footprint of the earth. Light Detection and Ranging collects 3 dimensional points of the earth’s surface.  Airborne laser scanners shoot up to 400,000 pulses of light per second.  The laser transmits these pulses and then records the time delay to accurately calculate elevation values. The remote sensing technology can see through clouds, smoke or any weather condition to produce highly detailed, accurate images. This is possible by laser technology that blankets the surface of the earth and tracks elevation data points.  Better information helps our carriers identify the real cost of your insurance.

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Will my Bank accept Private Market Flood Insurance?

The Ruling

Private Market Flood insurance can save you a ton of money, but will your bank/mortgage company accept it? The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 amended the Federal flood insurance legislation to require the FDIC, the National Credit Union Administration, The Farm Credit Administration, The Federal Reserve and the Office of Comptroller of Currency to issue a final ruling.  As of July 1, 2019, they have come together and have mandated that all private banks accept insurance policies issued by private insurers, as long as a private insurers policy meets the statutory definition of Private Flood Insurance.  Your bank may request proof in writing that the policy is in compliance with the statute.

We have learned that some government loans such as an FHA loan will NOT accept Private Market Flood. They still require that flood insurance be with a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insurer, backed by FEMA. Hopefully, the government will amend this in the near future so homeowners with an FHA loan can save on their flood insurance as well.

It is best to check with your bank to make sure that they accept a Private Market Flood policy.

Give us a call at: (508) 997-3321 or Start your Quote Here