Do I Need Flood Insurance in Houston?
Most homeowners aren’t required to buy flood insurance. A mortgage lender can require it if you’re using a government-backed mortgage to buy a house in a flood risk area—but otherwise, you probably won’t give it a second thought.
But consider this: even the best Houston homeowners insurance won’t cover flood damage, and Harris County has seen 134 flooding events between 1996 and 2019.
So, do you need flood insurance in Houston? It depends. Generally, if you can afford to rebuild your home and replace your belongings without help from an insurance company or a loan, you might not need it.
However, the average flood claim payout from the National Flood Insurance Program ( NFIP ) was $52,000 in 2019—most homeowners don’t have that much cash sitting around. A Houston flood insurance policy is a safe bet to protect against financial devastation if a flood destroys your property.
Flood insurance goes beyond the coverage of a standard homeowners policy. It covers more severe types of water damage, such as heavy rain and powerful coastal storms.
Your decision to buy a policy can depend on your flood zone, too. But living outside of a high-risk flood zone doesn’t mean floodwaters won’t reach you.
According to the Harris County Flood Control District, you may want to buy coverage no matter where you live—nearly 70 percent of flood insurance claims after Hurricane Harvey were from properties outside of the 100-year floodplain.
Houston Flood Zones
In Houston, you can use the Harris County Flood Education Mapping Tool to locate your flood risk. Enter your address in the flood map search box to discover whether you’re in a floodway, 100-year floodplain, or 500-year floodplain.
Knowing your zone is important. It’s a primary factor that can determine your risk of flooding. However, Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ) flood modeling might not be as reliable as you think.
Houston saw three 500-year floods in a row—one in May 2015, one in April 2016, and another in August 2017. The chances of a 1-in-500 event happening three consecutive times is one in 125 million!
No matter where you live in Houston, the Harris County Flood Control District recommends all residents have flood insurance.