Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

Dear Barry: I am presently in escrow to buy a home, and the mortgage company requires that I buy flood insurance. This must mean that there has been flooding at some time in the past, but I see no evidence of water damage anywhere on the property. So I’m wondering, how serious can the insurance requirement be? Is there any way to find out if the house has been flooded, and if so, what was the extent of the damage?   Kathleen

Dear Kathleen: The requirement for flood insurance does not mean that the house has been flooded in the past. Mortgage companies typically base flood insurance requirements on the location of the property, not on its flood history. If a house is situated in a geological flood plane — that is, if there is the possibility of flooding every100 years — then flood insurance is usually required. In some cases, where only a portion of the property is situated in a flood plane, flood insurance will be required, even if the home itself is on higher ground and not located in the flood plane.

You should check with the county engineering department to determine whether the home you are buying is actually located in a flood zone. In some cases, it is possible to negotiate these insurance requirements with the mortgage company.