Have you checked your flood risk lately? With the increasing frequency of severe storms and flooding events, no home is truly safe from potential flood damage. But you can protect your most valuable asset—your home—by getting flood insurance.
You may be hesitant to pay for yet another insurance policy. But the devastating financial loss flooding can cause makes flood insurance a necessity.
Let’s start with a quick quiz:
Do you live near a river, stream or coastline?
Have you experienced flooding in your area in the past 10 years?
Is your home located in a low-lying area or floodplain?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your home is at risk. And a standard homeowner’s insurance policy won’t cover flood damage.
The good news? This post will teach you flood insurance 101. You’ll learn what’s covered, how much it costs, and most importantly, how to score the most affordable policy for your home.
Flooding can happen almost anywhere, whether you live near the coast, a river, or low-lying area prone to heavy rainfall. In fact, around 20% of flood insurance claims occur in moderate-to-low risk areas. With 1-in-4 homeowners insurance policies not covering flood damage, getting separate flood insurance is vital.
Flood insurance provides financial protection by covering the costs to repair and replace your home and possessions that are damaged. However, not all flood insurance policies are the same. Quotes can vary wildly depending on your location, amount of coverage and the insurer. Shopping around and comparing flood insurance quotes is crucial to finding the right policy at the lowest price.
How Flood Insurance Works
Flood insurance offered in the US is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Private insurers like Allstate and State Farm also offer their own flood insurance policies.
The NFIP offers building property coverage up to $250,000 and contents coverage up to $100,000. Excess flood insurance provided by private insurers can cover higher limits.
To qualify for flood insurance, your community must participate in NFIP by enforcing certain floodplain management regulations. Over 20,000 communities in the US and its territories participate in NFIP.
Flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before coverage kicks in. There are some exceptions if the policy is purchased in connection with a mortgage.
Premiums are based on a variety of factors, including your flood zone risk, location, age of building, and amount of coverage. Rates do not differ based on income.
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
A standard flood insurance policy will cover direct physical losses to your home and its contents caused by a flood. Additional living expenses if your home is unlivable are also covered.
Covered losses include but are not limited to:
- Structural damage to walls, floors, insulation, items like furnaces and water heaters
- Damage to contents like furniture, electronics, clothing, artwork
- Clean up costs like removing flood debris and tear out
- Loss of use if your home is uninhabitable during repairs
The NFIP does cap coverage and there are some exclusions:
- Maximum $250,000 for dwelling, $100,000 for contents
- $1,000 cap for jewelry, art, furs
- $2,500 cap for self-propelled vehicles like cars
- Damage from mold, dampness or gradual water damage are excluded
Replacement cost coverage is available that provides extended benefits above the standard per item caps.
How Much Flood Insurance Cost – What Affects Your Quote
Flood insurance rates are set by FEMA’s NFIP, so pricing is consistent across providers. However, your individual flood insurance quote will vary based on these main factors:
Location Your flood zone on FEMA maps determines your base policy rates. High risk areas like coastal regions and 100-year floodplains have the highest rates. Rate also increases for lower floors like a basement.
Coverage Amount The claim payout limits affect your premiums. Opting for $100,000 of contents coverage costs more than $50,000. Replacement cost coverage also increases your quote.
Deductible Like other insurance, choosing a higher deductible (like $5,000) lowers your rates compared to a $1,000 or $2,000 deductible.
Type of Home Single family homes are cheaper to insure than condos in larger apartment buildings. Rates are also lower for 1-floor homes versus multi-level houses.
Flood Mitigation Homes with flood mitigation features like raised foundations and flood barriers get policy discounts.
To get an accurate quote you’ll need to provide your insurer with important details like your address, home value, age of building, desired coverage amount, deductible and any flood protection already installed.
Getting multiple quotes is the best way to find the lowest rate. Let’s look at how you can compare flood insurance quotes.
Comparing Flood Insurance Quotes
The National Flood Insurance Program sets the pricing methodology, but you still need to shop quotes from various providers. Here are some tips for getting apples-to-apples flood insurance quotes:
- Compare quotes with the same coverage limits and deductible. Make sure building coverage matches your home value.
- Look at both private market and NFIP quotes. Private insurers might offer more discounts.
- Ask about any discounts like multi-policy, mitigation features, bundle with homeowners insurance.
- Consider including Excess Flood coverage from private insurers if you need higher limits.
- Review the policy terms. Make sure you understand exclusions and any coverage restrictions.
- Ask if there are any fees or surcharges added on top of the base rates.
Online you can easily compare quotes from top flood insurance companies:
- FEMA – Offers NFIP policies directly to consumers online without agents
- Allstate – Bundling with other policies can save up to 25%
- State Farm – Get discounted preferred rates by bundling
- American Strategic – Specializes in flood coverage with transparent rates
- Select Flood – Works with agents to write NFIP policies
To find and compare the best flood insurance quotes you’ll need to provide some basic information about your property like the home value, year built, construction type, the address and your desired coverage limits.
Getting quotes from 3-5 different insurers is recommended, as pricing can vary widely. Spending some time comparing rates ensures you get the right level of coverage without overpaying.
Is Flood Insurance Required? When You Need It
While flood insurance is not federally mandated, there are some important instances where flood coverage is required or highly recommended:
Homes with a federally backed mortgage – If your mortgage is through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA or USDA loans, you are legally required to carry flood insurance if located in a high-risk flood area.
Homes in a 100-year floodplain – Even without a mortgage, flood insurance is recommended for any home in a FEMA designated high-risk flood zone, marked on maps as Special Flood Hazard Areas. This indicates a 1% or greater annual chance of flooding.
Coastal areas and rivers – Floods often occur outside mapped zones, so added coverage is wise if living along the coasts, rivers, streams or inland low areas prone to heavy rainfall runoff.
Low flood risk zones – Nearly 1 in 4 NFIP claims are filed in moderate-to-low risk zones, so consider flood insurance even if not legally mandated.
Condos and rentals – Tenants should have flood protection, even if the building owner carries insurance. A renters policy does not cover flood damage to possessions.
Consult FEMA flood maps to see your home’s flood zone risk level. Being in a high-risk area likely makes flood insurance a requirement, but all properties have some level of risk. Comparing quotes helps find affordable policies.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Floods?
Unfortunately, standard homeowners insurance policies offered by top insurers do not cover flood damage. Water damage from burst pipes, appliance leaks and rain storms is covered, but rising water from a flood is excluded.
Damage costs from just 1-inch of water can reach over $20,000, so relying solely on homeowners insurance is risky. Leaving your home vulnerable to uninsured flood damage can cause financial devastation.
While flood insurance is an added policy expense, homeowners insurance alone cannot provide adequate financial protection. Make sure you get a separate flood policy quote to cover this gap in your insurance coverage.
How to Make Flood Insurance Claim
Making an insurance claim after a flood involves some important steps to secure your payout for covered losses:
- Document damage with photos/videos and save damaged personal property. Don’t dispose of anything until an adjuster visits your home.
- File your claim with your insurer right away and provide details about the damage. The claim process is the same for both NFIP and private policies.
- An adjuster will schedule a home inspection to assess damage and determine the repair costs your policy will cover.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage if it is safe to do so. Save all repair receipts. Do not make permanent repairs before the inspection.
- Get a copy of your adjuster’s damage report as soon as available detailing your covered losses. Review to ensure nothing is missing.
- You’ll receive your claim payment once the claims process is complete and all covered losses are documented.
- If you disagree with your insurance settlement, you can provide more information and appeal the decision.
Take photos to document losses, make emergency repairs if possible, and be thorough when describing damages to your adjuster. This helps ensure you receive your full flood insurance claim payment to recover from the flood loss.
Floods can quickly cause tens of thousands in home damage that regular homeowners insurance won’t touch. While no one likes paying for yet another insurance policy, flood insurance provides essential financial protection for homeowners prone to flood risk.
Understanding what flood coverage includes, and following tips to compare flood insurance quotes, helps you to secure an affordable policy tailored to your needs.
Investing in flood insurance, even if not mandated for your area, gives peace of mind knowing you can recover in the event of a devastating flood.