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FEMA Flood Insurance: Your Complete Guide

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Why you can trust Insurify

Insurify partners with top insurance companies and is a licensed agent in all 50 states. However, the insurance experts writing our content operate independently of our partners. Check out reviews from over 3,000 satisfied customers, how we make money, our data methodology, and our editorial standards.
Jackie Cohen

By: Jackie Cohen

Edited by John Leach

Updated September 13, 2022

Reading time: 4 minutes

How can I buy FEMA flood insurance?

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is sold by insurance companies across the country. Ask your insurance company or go to FloodSmart.gov to learn more.

Have you heard that you can get flood insurance through FEMA? It’s true: the Federal Emergency Management Agency subsidizes flood insurance through a program called the National Flood Insurance Program ( NFIP ). NFIP policies are available to everyone, regardless of flood risk.

Even though the federal government sets rates and pays out flood insurance claims, FEMA doesn’t sell insurance. Instead, private insurance companies in every state and territory sell NFIP policies. You can learn more about FEMA flood insurance at FloodSmart.gov, then find a local insurance agent or call your insurance company to buy a policy for your property.

All homeowners should consider buying a flood insurance policy. Floods can happen to anyone, and even an inch of water can cause flood damage in the tens of thousands of dollars. And not to be a downer, but the effects of climate change are making heavy rainfall, and thus flooding, a more frequent and widespread problem.

Read on for all the information you need about FEMA ’s National Flood Insurance Program, including how to buy a policy, what it covers, and what to expect for flood insurance premiums.

How FEMA Flood Insurance Works

You can find all the information you need about FEMA flood insurance at FloodSmart.gov. Insurance providers can also help you through the flood insurance process, so if you have a strong relationship with your insurance agent, give them a call to talk about flood insurance.

Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968. It was established to subsidize flood insurance coverage to guarantee that high-risk households could access affordable flood insurance. Anyone can buy an NFIP policy. It now serves five million property owners and renters every year, and that number is climbing.

As of October 2021, FEMA determines flood insurance premiums with a system called Risk Rating 2.0, which is designed to be fairer than ever. The higher your flood risk and more valuable your property, the higher your premium. But don’t get too worried about pricing: flood insurance rates are lowest in high-risk states like Florida and Louisiana, and the rate hikes you’ve heard about with Flood Risk 2.0 are generally overblown.

FEMA Flood Insurance Rates

Here’s one thing that takes some of the stress out of buying FEMA flood insurance: even though practically every insurance company sells NFIP policies, the rates are set by FEMA with flood maps. So no matter the insurer you’re working with, you’ll get the same rate.

Flood zones are labeled with a code that estimates the flood risk and types of possible flood damage. Your flood zone, your property’s value, its elevation, and several other factors set your flood insurance premium. If your city or county participates in FEMA ’s community rating system, policyholders will have the advantage of some extra savings.

The average annual premium for flood insurance is a bit less than $1,000, or $80 per month. But rates can vary highly based on location and property value.

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What Does FEMA Flood Insurance Cover?

There are two components of flood insurance coverage: building coverage and personal property coverage.

Building coverage covers flood damage to the walls, floors, carpets, built-in appliances, windows, and other components of the property that are considered part of the building itself. Coverage limits for building coverage on NFIP policies are generally capped at $250,000.

Personal property coverage will protect the stuff inside your house that’s damaged by a flood, including furniture, clothing, electronics, rugs, and other items. FEMA flood insurance caps personal property coverage at $100,000.

Is FEMA Flood Insurance Required?

Federal flood insurance is not required by the federal government unless you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area and your mortgage is backed by the federal government. Ask your mortgage lender if you think flood insurance might be required for your property. You can access flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) online to see if you’re in a Special Flood Hazard Zone.

Where to Find FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps

The Flood Map Service Center on the FEMA website is the best way to browse rate maps and determine the risk area of your property. You can also ask your insurance agent to get you a quote from FEMA.

Getting a Low Premium on Your Flood Insurance

If you’re hesitating to invest in a flood insurance policy, you can take a few steps to make sure your annual premium is a bit lower than it would be. Getting an elevation certificate for your property can ensure that FEMA has an accurate estimate of your place in the risk area.

Choosing a higher deductible will also lower your premium. But if you’re in a high-risk area and have to make a giant insurance claim, you might regret setting a high deductible. So make your choice carefully— flood damage can be devastating to your budget.

You can also try to lobby your city or county to invest in floodplain management and take on mitigation projects that will lower flood insurance premiums for your whole community. With climate change increasing the risk and severity of floods worldwide, governments at every level should be investing in protecting everyone against natural disasters.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area and have a federally backed loan on your mortgage, you’re required to have FEMA flood insurance. Check with your lender if you think that’s you.

  • Flooding is the most common and expensive natural disaster. No one is immune to flood risk, and a surprising proportion of flood insurance claims come from low- and moderate-risk flood zones.

  • Your insurance agent can provide you a quote. FEMA subsidizes NFIP flood insurance but doesn’t sell it directly.

  • Homeowners insurance policies rarely, if ever, cover flood damage. You almost always have to buy a separate flood insurance policy. If you’re unsure whether your homeowners policy covers flooding, call your insurance agent.

  • If you’re required to have federal flood insurance, then you need an NFIP policy. But if you want higher coverage limits than FEMA offers and aren’t required to have NFIP insurance, you can get flood insurance from the private market.

  • Renters can protect their personal property from flood damage and should think about doing so! But keep in mind, flood insurance covers natural disasters—not when you leave your bath running too long.

Still Have Questions About FEMA Flood Insurance?

Don’t miss out on flood insurance. Almost everyone stands a significant chance of facing a flood over a 30-year mortgage. FEMA flood insurance protects everyone at subsidized rates and tries to be fair and equitable based on risk and property value.

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Jackie Cohen
Jackie Cohen
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Editorial Manager

Jackie Cohen is an editorial manager at Insurify specializing in property & casualty insurance educational content. She has years of experience analyzing insurance trends and helping consumers better understand their insurance coverage to make informed decisions about their finances.

Jackie's work has been cited in USA Today, The Balance, and The Washington Times.

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