No Flood Insurance? Here’s How to Get Help

You may be able to get assistance from the federal government or other sources.

If a flood wrecks your house and belongings, and you don’t have flood insurance, you may feel as though you’ve lost everything. However, once the floodwaters recede you will be able to get back on your feet.

First, check your insurance. Your homeowners policy won’t likely cover flood damage. However, your auto policy may. If a flood damages or destroys your vehicle, it’ll likely be covered — minus your deductible — as long as you have comprehensive coverage on your auto policy.

Some homeowners policies will cover expenses associated with mandatory evacuation orders, so if you had to pay for a hotel or meals while away from home, save your receipts and see if your insurer will reimburse you.

These sources can provide assistance beyond that provided by your insurance.

FEMA grants

Once your state has been declared a major disaster zone by the president, you can apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants.

FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program offers up to $36,000 per household to help with temporary housing, repairs, and construction. An additional $36,000 is available for other post-disaster requirements. Although it cannot replace insurance, it can be supplemented and it doesn’t have to be repaid.

FEMA grants can be applied for to:

  • If your home is not habitable, you can rent a place to live. Temporary housing is available if there are no rentals. You can get help for as long as three months, and up to 18 months after that.
  • You can repair damage and replace items that are not covered by your insurance.
  • Other disaster-related expenses such as funerals and medical and dental care, and child care, can be covered by your donation.

FEMA may in rare instances pay for permanent or semi-permanent housing to be built in areas where there aren’t other options.

Federal grants can only be used for your primary residence. They are not available for secondary homes. You must have at least one U.S citizen in your household, or you will not be eligible for federal grants for noncitizens.

To check eligibility and apply for a grant, visit

SBA disaster loans

You may be eligible for low-cost loans through the Small Business Administration if you require more assistance than FEMA grants. SBA loans are the most popular form of federal disaster assistance. To be eligible, you don’t need to have a business.

These loans can only be used for damage to your primary residence that is not covered by insurance. The terms are up to 30 years with a maximum interest of 4% if credit is not available from another lender, and 8% if credit is possible. These are the available loans, as well as some restrictions.

  • You can spend up to $200,000 on your primary residence to replace or repair it. The loan cannot be used to pay for upgrades or additions, unless required by local building codes.
  • Refinance your mortgage up to $200,000 This loan is only available if you are unable to get credit elsewhere or have suffered any uncovered damage.
  • You can get up to $40,000 to replace your damaged items, including clothing, furniture, and appliances. Both homeowners and renters can apply for these loans.

Services provided by the state, county, and local governments

Don’t limit your options to federal assistance if you are in need of help. FEMA suggests that survivors contact their local emergency management department to get more information about the available resources.

Local governments might be able help you find free food, disaster unemployment assistance or assist with federal aid applications.

Non-profit organizations

In the wake of a flood, non-profit organizations are often called to action. The American Red Cross is one of the most well-known. They offer shelter, food, supplies for cleanup, and sometimes assistance with recovery planning.

Greta Gustafson (a spokesperson for American Red Cross) wrote in an email that “in some situations, the Red Cross might provide financial support directly to persons who need additional help.” This assistance is usually directed at the most vulnerable victims of disasters.

If you have lost your income due to the disaster, your local United Way chapter may be able help with cleanup and repairs to your house.

For help in your local area, you can call 211 or visit