You May Need Flood Insurance!

Did You Know? Clackamas County typically gets between 43” to 88” of rain every year. Clackamas County is a member of the National Flood Insurance Program: Federal regulations impose a Mandatory Purchase Requirement on buildings located in the floodplain. This requires that lenders ensure property owners purchase flood insurance. It applies to all forms of federal or federally related financial assistance (including subsidized mortgages and other loans). Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage: This coverage is included in most standard flood insurance policies.  Claims for these benefits are filed separately from a claim for contents of building loss. In addition, certain eligible property owners can qualify for up to $30,000 to bring their home or business into compliance. These benefits can also be used to pay for required improvements to buildings that have been repeatedly or severely damaged by flooding.If you're a Clackamas County resident or property owner, you have the option to buy flood insurance whether or not you live in a floodplain. Contact an insurance company to purchase flood insurance. You may also contact the Planning Division at 503-742-4500 for additional information about County floodplain regulations and their relationship to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Here's why . . .

  • Homeowner and business insurance do not cover flood damage. Separate flood insurance must be purchased to cover flood damage and loss.
  • Just a few inches of flood water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage not covered by homeowners insurance. Over the past 10 years, the average flood claim has been nearly $48,000.
  • You're not just at risk of a flood if you live near a river; floods can also occur because of clogged drains, surface water back-ups and flash floods.
  • You don't have to be in a floodplain to buy flood insurance. Because Clackamas County is in the National Flood Insurance Program, all residents and business owners in unincorporated areas are eligible to buy flood insurance.
  • Flood insurance is the most economical protection from devastating financial loss from a flood. During the Sandy River flood in Jan. 2011, three houses were damaged beyond repair and one house was swept downstream. Three of those homeowners had up-to-date flood insurance coverage, including one outside of the mapped flood zone. The flood insurance covered most of their losses. The owner without flood insurance was left on their own to recover from the devastating loss.

Prepare for possible future floods

  • Buy flood insurance if you're in any floodplain, and consider it even if you're not, especially if you're near the Sandy River.
  • List all your personal property, including furnishings, clothing and valuables. Take pictures or video of your home and contents, especially high-value items; keep insurance policies, pictures, videos and lists of personal property in a safe place.
  • Put together a 72-hour disaster supply kit. For details, go to the American Red Cross or
  • Consider ways to reduce long-term flooding risk, such as elevating your home or moving it to higher ground, building floodwalls or berms, flood-proofing and protecting utilities.
  • Plan how you would evacuate in the threat of a flood, such as what to take with you, the safest evacuation route and where to go.

Help prevent floods

Don't dump or throw anything into ditches or streams
A plugged channel cannot carry water, and when it rains, the excess water must go somewhere.

Remove debris, trash, loose branches and vegetation
Keep banks clear of brush and debris to help maintain an unobstructed flow of water in stream channels. Do not, however, remove vegetation actively growing on a stream bank, which is regulated by local, state and federal agencies.

Obtain a floodplain development permit and/or building permit, if required
To minimize damage to structures during floods, the county requires all new construction in the floodplain to be anchored against movement by floodwaters, resistant to flood forces, constructed with flood-resistant materials and flood-proofed or elevated so the first floor of living space, as well as all mechanical and services, is at least one foot above the elevation of the 100-year flood. These standards apply to new structures and to substantial improvements of existing structures. Most other types of development within the floodplain also require a floodplain development permit, such as grading, cut and fill, and bank stabilization techniques.

Flood Insurance rates rising to cover costs; County residents still eligible for discount

Flood insurance rates are increasing. The NFIP, founded in 1968, provided subsidized insurance rates to people with homes that did not meet minimum standards but were built before FEMA's new flood mapping existed. Now, after years of massive storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, NFIP is out of money and deeply in debt. In order to help the program become solvent and build a reserve fund, federal legislation approved in 2012 requires that flood insurance rates reflect the flood risk of the property.

While some people with flood insurance will not see an increase because their rates already reflect their flood risk, others will need to pay significantly more based on their actual flood risk. Some rate changes have taken place, and others become effective October 1, 2013. Triggers for rate changes include policy lapses, map changes and property purchases.

As a NFIP member, the County must oversee floodplains based on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards. In turn, property owners must buy flood insurance for residences in the floodplain. By law, lending institutions require flood insurance for structures in a floodplain and have the option to require it for other areas.

For more information

Frequently Asked Questions


Flood insurance covers buildings and their contents when inundated or undermined by floodwaters.  Flood insurance may also provide financial help to upgrade buildings to current floodplain construction standards. 

Building coverage includes:

  • The insured building and its foundation
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • Central air conditioning, furnaces and water heaters
  • Refrigerators, stoves and built-in appliances
  • Permanent carpeting over unfinished flooring

Contents coverage includes:

  • Clothing, furniture, curtains and electronic equipment
  • Portable and window air conditioners
  • Portable microwaves and dishwashers
  • Carpeting not included in property coverage
  • Clothes washers and dryers
  • For homeowners, flood insurance covers damage up to $250,000 and, if you purchase content coverage, up to $100,000 for building contents.
  • For business owners, flood insurance covers damage up to $500,000 for the building and, if you buy content coverage, up to $500,000 for contents.

Flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and agents, and backed by the federal government. It is required by law for federally-backed mortgages in floodplains.


Buy it now, before a flood appears imminent!  There is a 30-day waiting period for new coverage to become effective, so it's important not to wait until the risk of a flood.  (The only exception to the 30-day wait is when flood insurance is required of a loan upon closing.)


Yes, there are 3 forms of flood insurance policies available to renters: 

  • Dwelling (homes; individual condominium units)
  • General Property (other residential buildings [apartments, etc.] and businesses)
  • Residential Condominium Building Association

Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers and the property's flood risk. All policy forms provide coverage for buildings and contents. However, since contents coverage is optional, you might want to discuss insuring personal property with your agent.


If a flood damages your property, you may be required by law to bring your home up to community and/or state floodplain management standards. If you have flood insurance, and your home has been declared substantially damaged by your community, ICC coverage covers up to $30,000 of the cost to elevate, flood-proof, demolish or relocate your property. This ICC coverage is in addition to the coverage you receive to repair flood damages.


This policy offers multiple coverage combinations for both buildings and contents (or contents only, for renters) in moderate-to-low risk areas. Policies are available for buildings that meet eligibility requirements based on the building's flood loss history.

  • Most homes outside high-risk areas qualify for Preferred Risk.
  • Preferred Risk offers the same quality coverage as a Standard Flood Insurance Policy. Up to $250,000 of building coverage and $100,000 of content coverage can cost just $365/year. Other coverage options start as low as $129/year.

A floodplain is an area of land subject to flooding that is next to a river, stream, lake, estuary or other body of water. Clackamas County has about 20,000 acres of land and 10,000 individual land parcels in floodplains.  Rivers and streams particularly prone to flood include the Clackamas, Molalla, Pudding, Salmon, Sandy, Tualatin, Willamette, Zig Zag, Johnson Creek, Abernethy Creek, Beavercreek, Milk Creek and Cedar Creek.  


Contact the city in which you live, or call County Planning at 503-742-4500.


Yes, because Clackamas County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, federally-backed flood insurance is available for all structures in the county. In fact, more than 25% of NFIP claims are filed by owners of property outside the 100-year floodplain. And with rivers — like the Sandy — that flood outside of traditional floodplains, flood insurance is even more important.