Updated August 24, 2021
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Check out this guide with all the information you need to ensure your property is protected against flooding.
With Mississippi ’s namesake river, its numerous lakes, its proximity to the Gulf Coast, and the fact that the state is home to the fifth-largest floodplain in the United States, flooding should definitely be a concern to any property owners living in the Magnolia State. If you’re at a loss for where to start in terms of protecting your property from flood damage, look no further than this guide!
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Whether you think your property needs it or not, flood insurance is a crucial aspect of properly protecting your home or business. While standard homeowners insurance policies cover a variety of different perils and damages, they don’t cover damage from flooding. Granted, policies typically do include some water damage coverage, but only if such damage comes from very specific instances of faulty plumbing, not from natural disasters.
Given the generally high risk of flooding in the state, the federal government requires that all homeowners living in Special Flood Hazard Areas enroll in flood insurance coverage. Also, some mortgage lenders might require you to have flood insurance until your property is fully paid off.
What’s more, roughly 20 percent of flood claims in the United States come from low- risk areas. Even if you’re confident that it won’t happen to you, there’s no guarantee that your property won’t be affected by flooding, nor is there a guarantee that any monetary relief from the government will be sufficient to fully recover and repair your property. With Mississippi ’s storied history of floods, the varied reliability of numerous levees, and the state’s general geography, you would be putting yourself at serious financial risk by not enrolling in flood insurance.
Many sections of Mississippi have varying classifications determining their level of flood risk. Luckily, figuring out what kind of flood zone you live in is fairly easy by visiting floodsmart. gov and navigating to the Flood Map Service Center (MSC). With this tool, you can search your property’s address and see what kind of designation it carries. Here’s a quick guide on how to properly determine whether you live in a high-risk flood area:
Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA): If your zone is demarcated as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1–A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone V, Zone VE, Zones V1–V30, or a combination of these, then your property sits in an SFHA or high-risk flood zone. These types of flood zones indicate that the given area is part of a 100-year floodplain and has a chance of equaling or exceeding the base flood elevation. In more direct terms, SFHAs have a 25 percent or higher risk of flooding at some point during a 30-year mortgage term.
Moderate Flood Hazard Areas: If your area appears as Zone B or as a shaded Zone X on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), then your property is in a moderate-risk area. These types of flood zones indicate that the given area is part of a 500-year floodplain, meaning that the area has a lower risk of flooding than an SFHA.
Low Flood Hazard Areas: If your area appears as Zone C or as an unshaded Zone X on a Flood Insurance Rate Map, then your property is in a low- risk area. These types of flood zones sit at a higher elevation or have less of a chance of flooding than a Moderate Flood Hazard Area.
As mentioned previously, home insurance does provide limited coverage for water damage caused by certain faulty plumbing systems. However, when it comes to actual flood insurance, policies tend to offer two types of coverage: building coverage and contents coverage. It’s important to note that, in many cases, you will have to purchase two separate policies to cover each aspect of coverage.
Building coverage involves the actual structure of your home or business property. To be more specific, it covers the costs of repair/replacement of the following:
Foundation walls, staircases, and anchorage systems
Electrical and plumbing systems
Central air conditioning
Furnaces and water heaters
Permanently installed features, such as carpeting and paneling
Solar energy equipment, fuel tanks, and well-water pumps
Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and dishwashers
Contents coverage, on the other hand, focuses more on any items inside of—but not necessarily part of—your home or business. Contents coverage generally includes:
Carpets that fall outside of building coverage (such as those installed over wood flooring)
Portable/window air conditioners
Appliances, such as microwave ovens, washers, and dryers
Personal property, such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment
Highly valuable objects, such as jewelry and fine art
Of course, flood insurance policies can vary in terms of what and how much they cover. If you want to get a truly clear picture of what is protected and what is not, make sure you read the terms and details of a given policy. This way, you can choose the right plan that covers everything you need without the surprise of unpleasant gaps in coverage.
As with virtually all forms of insurance, there are exceptions to what your policy will cover. The most important thing to consider is that water damage must be caused by a flood to qualify for coverage. The definition of a flood—as it pertains to insurance—is an inundation of water in a normally dry place, affecting at least two acres of land or two properties. Anything that doesn’t fit this definition will likely not be covered by flood insurance.
In addition, there are a handful of more specific exceptions to consider. The following items are not covered by flood insurance:
Temporary living expenses (such as hotel costs, meal costs, etc.) incurred if your home is uninhabitable due to flooding
Mold damage that was not caused by flooding or that could have been mitigated by the owner
Loss of income caused by the disruption of business operations
Any features outside of the main building structure, such as fences, patios, swimming pools, or decks
Any precious metals or papers, such as currency or stocks
Automobiles or other self-propelled vehicles
Depending on what kind of home insurance you hold, it’s very likely that a flood insurance policy will be less expensive than that, although that doesn’t mean that it will be cheap. According to the NFIP, the average flood insurance policy in Mississippi costs around $700 a year, or roughly $58 a month.
If you’re looking to get a clear picture of how much a policy will cost you, make sure you take into account the different sources of flood insurance. Varying insurance agencies can bring an equally varied set of costs from flood insurance premiums, deductibles, and coverage limits.
There are a couple of reliable ways to get flood insurance: through the National Flood Insurance Program ( NFIP ) or through private insurance companies.
The National Flood Insurance Program is a program offered by the federal government meant to provide flood insurance to households and business owners across the United States. The program itself is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ), which essentially regulates and underwrites policies offered by major insurance companies, such as Allstate and Farmers.
If you need some extra help navigating the costs, it might make sense to contact an insurance agent to walk you through the process and give you solid flood insurance quotes. You can also visit both fema.gov and floodsmart. gov for more information.
In addition to the NFIP, there are other stand-alone flood insurance providers that can help insure your property. Though these providers can offer much more variety in terms of coverage options, limits, and benefits, these private sources may be more expensive depending on your chosen plan or policy. With that in mind, make sure that you do proper research and know what you’re signing up for before committing to a plan.
The short answer is yes! You certainly can insure your belongings against flood damage. Renters insurance is a great source of coverage to make sure your personal property, like clothing, laptops, and furniture, is protected from things like burglary and damage. The main caveat is that, much like standard home insurance policies, renters insurance policies do not offer flood coverage. So if you’re a renters insurance policyholder, you’ll likely need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. It could get pricey, but you’ll know your belongings are protected.
Generally speaking, the vast majority of flood insurance plans have a 30-day waiting period before you can file claims. This means that if you know a flood is on the horizon and try to get some last-minute coverage, that coverage will not go into effect, and you’ll be responsible for all of the repair/replacement costs. The best thing to do is to not wait until a flood is imminent before signing up for a plan. Whether you’re in a low-risk or high-risk area, or whether you’re in a dry or wet season, you can’t go wrong by signing up for flood insurance as soon as you can.
While the idea of the “100-year flood” sounds pretty bad, it’s simply an indicator of a flood that has so much inundation, it might only happen once every 100 years. This would mean that such a flood would have a 1 percent chance of occurring during a given year. In that same vein, the concept of the “500-year flood” would be even less likely, with a 0.2 percent chance of occurring during a given year.
Given the geography of Mississippi, you would be much better served with a flood insurance policy than without. In fact, even just a few inches of floodwater can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to your home or business.
So why not take the extra step and spend the extra money to protect your property?
Feel like you’ve got everything you need to get your search started? Try Insurify. With in-depth plan details and comparisons, you can find the right plan for you and your home.
Originally from Los Angeles, California, Adrian Coto is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of the NYU Creative Writing MFA program, he's worked as a legal assistant, a law school administrator, and now as a copywriter and editor.Learn More