Do I Need Flood Insurance in New York?
Whether you need flood insurance coverage in New York depends on where you live and the flood risk for that area. If you are a homeowner in a high-risk flood zone, you may be required to purchase a flood insurance policy. Mortgage lenders often require homeowners to purchase flood insurance if you are applying for a mortgage loan for a home located in a high-risk zone.
However, even if you don’t live in a high-risk area that requires you to purchase flood insurance, there are still reasons why you may want coverage anyway. If you live in a geographical area prone to hurricanes or tropical storms, then you may find peace of mind by purchasing flood insurance, even if your home is located in a low-risk area. After all, flood risk zones are simply guidelines—so flooding in a low-risk area isn’t impossible or unheard of.
In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA ), more than 40 percent of the National Flood Insurance Program ( NFIP ) claims between 2015 and 2019 came from homes in moderate- to low-risk areas. A home is likely the largest investment you’ll ever make, and you want to know that you’ll be financially protected should something as disastrous as a flood occur.
New York Flood Zones
New York flood maps and flood zones are determined by FEMA. As you might have guessed, cities along the New York waterfront are major flood risk areas.
New York City boroughs in particular are at high risk of flooding. A few high-risk areas in NYC include Manhattan, the Rockaways in Queens, Staten Island, and South Brooklyn.
In New York, you may also find neighborhoods or buildings built in floodplains —which are at greater risk of flooding while simultaneously increasing flood hazards in surrounding areas. Floodplains are low-lying areas of land next to rivers and streams. In their natural state, such as forestland or meadows, floodplains can safely store floods. But with buildings, roads, parking lots, and even homes being built in these floodplains, the land in a given area cannot naturally absorb water. Instead, this increases the chances of homes being flooded.
New York Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)
FEMA creates Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that mark areas at high risk of flooding. These are extensive maps created by mapping the topography of the state and the types of storm strengths that have come through in the past. With a flood map, you’ll be able to see if your home is located in a low-risk, moderate-risk, or high-risk flood zone or in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
You can either view flood maps in person at the Department of Buildings offices or at FloodHelpNY.org.