National Flood Insurance Programs

By Rachel McClaine, USC Township Administrative Intern


There were an overwhelming number of flood victims this year, especially in Allegheny County. Many of these victims are seeking help, but most homeowners, business owners, and renters do not have flood insurance. Private coverage can be unreliable and expensive. A great option for flood victims seeking help is the National Flood Insurance Programs (NFIP).


The federal government offers the NFIP, which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). NFIP aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. This program enables homeowners, business owners, and renters in participating communities who are in both high-risk and moderate-to-low risk areas to purchase federally-backed flood insurance. The program reduces the socioeconomic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance but, more specifically, flood insurance. Upper St. Clair participates in this program. For a list of other participating communities, visit https://www.fema.gov/cis/PA.html. The NFIP covers direct physical damage by flood to your building and/or personal property. The following is a summary of what is covered and not covered under these programs (view the FEMA website or contact your insurance company for complete policy information).

Covered Building Property: • Plumbing systems • Furnaces and water heaters • Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances, such as dishwashers • Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets. The damage must be directly caused by flood water. Cabinets that were not damaged by flood water are not covered, even if they match cabinets that were damaged by flood water. • Window blinds • A detached garage, used for limited storage or parking. Up to ten percent of the building coverage limit can be used, but will reduce the total amount of building coverage available.

Covered Personal Property Contents: • Personal belongings, including clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment • Curtains

• Portable and window air conditioners (easily moved or relocated) • Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers

• Carpets not included in building coverage (carpet installed over wood floors, etc.)

• Clothing washers and dryers

• Certain valuable items, including original artwork and furs (up to $2500)

• Food freezers (other than walk-ins), including the food in them


Not Covered for Building or Personal Property:

• Damage caused by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided by the property owner or which is not attributable to the flood

• Damage caused by earth movement, even if the earth movement is caused by the flood

• Additional living expenses, including temporary housing, while the building is being repaired or is unable to be occupied

• Loss of use or access of the insured property

• Financial losses caused by business interruption • Property and belongings outside of an insured building, including trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walks, decks, patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs, and swimming pools

• Currency, precious metals, and valuable papers, such as stock certificates • Most self-propelled vehicles, including cars and their parts


Basements and Areas Below the Lowest Elevated Floor:

Flood insurance coverage is limited to areas below the lowest elevated floor, including crawlspaces, depending on the flood zone and date of construction and in basements regardless of zone or date of construction. This includes: • Basements •  Crawlspaces under an elevated building

•  Enclosed areas beneath buildings elevated on full-store foundation walls (sometimes referred to as “walkout basements”)

•  Enclosed areas under other types of elevated buildings


Basements and Areas Below the Lowest Elevated Floor-Covered Building Property:

• Foundation walls, anchorage systems, and staircases attached to the building

• Central air conditioners

• Cisterns and the water in them

• Drywall for walls and ceilings (in basement only)

• Non-flammable insulation (in basement only)

• Electrical outlets, switches, and circuit-breaker boxes

• Fuel tanks and the fuel in them, solar energy equipment, and well water tanks and pumps

• Furnaces, water heaters, heat pumps, and sump pumps


Basements and Areas Below the Lowest Elevated Floor-Covered Personal Property: 

• Washers and dryers •  Food freezers and the food in them, but not refrigerators

• Portable and window air conditioners


Basements and Areas Below the Lowest Elevated Floor-Not Covered Under Building or Personal Property:

• Paneling, bookcases, and window treatments, including curtains and blinds

• Carpeting, area carpets, and other floor coverings, such as tile

• Drywall for walls and ceilings (below the lowest elevated floor)

• Walls and ceilings not made of drywall

• In certain cases, staircases and elevators

• Most personal property, such as clothing, electronic equipment, kitchen supplies, and furniture


NFIP Contact Information

Website: https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program

Phone: 800-621-FEMA / 800-427-4661 Email: floodsmart@fema.dhs.gov


This summary is intended for informational purposes only and is not a complete description of the NFIP. Visit the FEMA website and contact your insurance company for complete information before purchasing a policy. A list of private insurance companies that sell the NFIP can be found at https://www.fema.gov/wyo_company. If your agent does not sell NFIP, contact the NFIP Help Center at 800-427-4661. Background about NFIP flood insurance and about the claims process can be found at http://www.fema.gov/information-property-owners. The Township of Upper St. Clair would like to thank County Councilwoman Sue Means and her staff for compiling this information regarding the NFIP.


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