Updated July 30, 2021
Reading time: 4 minutes
The answer depends on your flood risk, your home’s construction, and other factors.
Floods can be financially devastating. Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in water damage to your home, according to floodsmart.gov, and your homeowners insurance policy won’t cover any of it. That’s because floods are specifically excluded from most home insurance policies.
To cover your home in case of flooding, you usually need to buy a separate policy. Our guide to finding affordable flood insurance explains how.
Need a new homeowners insurance policy to go with your flood coverage? Insurify can help. Spend just a few minutes researching with Insurify to get affordable quotes from top insurers.
Many people don’t realize that a standard home insurance policy usually doesn’t cover flood damage. If you took out a mortgage in an area that’s extremely vulnerable to flooding, as some areas of Louisiana or Florida, your lender probably required you to buy coverage for flooding because federal government regulations mandated it.
However, not everyone who is vulnerable to flooding lives in a special flood hazard area. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the country, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ). You can find out if you live in a high-risk flood zone by looking up your address with FEMA ’s Flood Map Service Center, but even people who live in low-risk areas should consider flood insurance. That’s because about a quarter of all flood insurance claims are made in areas with low to moderate flood risk. In these areas, you may qualify for cheaper flood insurance under FEMA ’s Preferred Risk Policy; rates could be as low as $129 per year.
See more: Buyer’s Guide to Flood Insurance
Private flood insurance and publicly available flood insurance obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program ( NFIP ) are a little different. But both include coverage for building property and personal property.
Building property coverage reimburses you for flood damage to the actual structure of the home, including the foundation, electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC system, and major appliances, like water heaters, stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers. It also includes permanently installed interior materials, like carpeting, bookcases, cabinets, and paneling, as well as detached structures, like garages and solar energy equipment.
Personal property coverage, as the name suggests, pays for damage to your personal belongings, like furniture, portable appliances, washers and dryers, clothes, and food. Some policies set sub-limits that restrict coverage for high-value items like artwork and furs.
Private flood insurance provides coverage for both categories in one policy. NFIP flood insurance requires you to buy the two kinds of coverage separately.
NFIP policies are also limited in their coverage; for example, the sub-limit for high-value items is set at $2,500. Private insurers may be able to offer higher limits, so if you have a lot of valuable assets, it may be worth talking to an insurance agent about a private flood insurance policy.
The average cost of flood insurance in the U.S. is $700 per year. However, rates can vary greatly depending on different factors. The best way to know how much flood insurance will cost is to get a quote, but understanding the factors that determine the cost can be helpful. These six things affect the cost of your flood insurance premiums.
Flood risk: The most significant thing that determines the cost of flood insurance for you is the risk of flooding in your region, which is based on past flood events. Most places have at least some flood risk, but flood insurance naturally costs more in areas of the country where flooding is more common. Your distance from nearby bodies of water also plays a role. Whether your home is within floodplain factors into coverage costs, as does the elevation of your home. You may live within a floodplain but be able to get cheaper coverage if your house is built on a hill or is otherwise elevated.
The qualities of your home: Flood insurance providers will want to know how your home is constructed and how old it is. Older homes may be more vulnerable to flood damage because they don’t use modern building techniques, like including floor openings where water can drain more quickly.
The type of coverage you buy: You can save money by buying a policy with only building coverage and no contents coverage, but you would be financially devastated if you couldn’t afford to replace any of your personal belongings.
Your coverage limit and deductible level: Your premium will be higher if you purchase more coverage, but you can lower your premiums by choosing a higher deductible.
Type of policy: Do you qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy from the NFIP? This type of coverage is for people in low-risk flood areas. However, they’re not available for all homeowners. People in high-risk flood areas can usually only get standard flood insurance coverage.
The insurance company you choose: For a long time, the NFIP was the only way to get flood insurance. Many insurers sold NFIP policies, but the rates were standardized by the government. However, within the last few years, some private flood insurance companies have popped up and started issuing their own policies. One of the largest private insurance companies is called The Flood Insurance Agency (TFIA), which operates in 48 states. Now, you can get several flood insurance quotes to compare coverage levels and premiums, just like when you shop for homeowners insurance quotes.
See more: Average Cost of Flood Insurance
Do you have an NFIP policy, or do you plan to buy one in the future? If so, it’s important to understand Risk Rating 2.0, a redesigned risk rating strategy that FEMA will use to determine premiums for flood insurance bought through NFIP.
Currently, flood insurance rates are determined by your home’s elevation and its location within a floodplain. Risk Rating 2.0 will determine more accurate insurance rates based on more factors, including historical flood frequency, the type of flood risk in your area (such as heavy rainfall or river overflow), your distance from a water source, the cost to rebuild your home, and your property’s elevation.
Why is FEMA doing this? It’s designed to help reduce the disparity in flood insurance costs for lower-valued homes vs. higher-valued ones.
The new rating system starts on October 1, 2021, for new policies. If you already have a policy with the NFIP, it will roll into the new rating system at renewal time on or after April 1, 2022.
It’s not required by law, but if you have any kind of home loan, your lender may require you to buy a policy if you live in a flood zone. However, even if you don’t have a home loan, flood insurance can be a good idea because flood damage is extremely expensive to repair.
No. Homeowners often use the word “flooding” to describe many kinds of water damage, but flood insurance only covers flood damage from natural disasters. To cover damage from water or sewer backup, you need a water backup endorsement on your home insurance.
If you buy a flood insurance policy from the NFIP, there will be a 30-day waiting period. This is to stop people from only buying coverage when a flood is about to happen. You may be able to get the waiting period waived in some circumstances, like if you’re closing on your home or your home has just been added to a high-risk area because flood maps have changed.
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.Learn More