How to Get a Flood Insurance Policy in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania homeowners have two options for flood insurance: private insurers or public insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program ( NFIP ), which is sold by regular insurance agents but backed by the federal government. If you have a mortgage, your lender may have certain restrictions on the type of coverage you can buy. For example, if you have an FHA loan, you may be required to purchase NFIP coverage. Other loan types may let you choose between a private or NFIP policy.
National Flood Insurance Program ( NFIP )
The National Flood Insurance Program is administered by FEMA and has been around for more than 50 years. It has two types of homeowners policies—one covers the dwelling or building itself and the other covers contents or personal property. It features a maximum of $250,000 of coverage on any one building and up to $100,000 for personal belongings.
It’s important to know that NFIP coverage has a waiting period of 30 days, so you can’t buy it right before a major storm and expect to be covered. Learn more at floodsmart. gov.
Private Flood Insurance
Private insurers tend to have extra coverage options that aren’t included in NFIP insurance. For example, higher coverage limits are available—some private insurers offer up to $1 million for the building and contents. Flood insurance quotes from private insurers are also usually lower than NFIP insurance, although this is partially because private insurers won’t write policies in high-risk areas, where the NFIP may be the only option available.
Private insurers may offer add-on coverage for things like temporary living expenses, coverage of basement contents, pool repairs and refilling, and coverage of detached structures, like garages and sheds. The waiting period is also typically shorter with private insurance, kicking in around 10–14 days after purchase.
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department maintains a list of licensed private insurers that write flood insurance policies. Neptune, Palomar Specialty, and Lloyd’s of London are just a few of the options for Pennsylvania homeowners.
In Pennsylvania, you also have the option of partnering with a surplus lines insurer. These are insurance providers not licensed in Pennsylvania but licensed in the state in which they’re based and may be authorized to sell surplus lines policies in Pennsylvania.
There are pros and cons to surplus lines coverage. Some mortgage lenders are not willing to accept flood insurance policies from surplus lines, and the Guaranty Fund doesn’t protect surplus lines carriers like it does regular insurers. However, surplus lines policies may offer savings for people whose property is only partially in a floodplain or who were recently redrawn into floodplains.