How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?
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The cost of flood insurance varies by state with typical numbers as low as $481 in Florida and as high as $3,647 in Vermont. Flood insurance can cover both the building and personal property within the structure. It will not, however, cover items outside the physical property. If you live in a low-risk zone, it is still a good idea to consider flood insurance. Flood insurance can be obtained through a private insurance provider or through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). While private insurance rates are cheaper and the coverage is more comprehensive, the NFIP recently updated its metrics to Risk Rate 2.0, offering more reliable rates to policyholders.
Below, you will find more in-depth information so you can understand the costs associated with flood insurance, what is and isn't covered, and how to get flood insurance.
The Average Cost of Flood Insurance by State
The average cost of flood insurance varies by state and flood zone. Below are two maps showing the annual premium averages for both high-risk and low-risk zones throughout the country.
Flood Zone A
Flood Zone V
Flood Zone X
Here is a breakdown of states with the lowest average cost by flood zone.
Flood Zone A
Flood Zone V
Flood Zone X
What Does Flood Insurance Cover?
Flood insurance can cover damage to your home's structure as well as personal property during a flood event. The NFIP states coverage is divided into two types; building coverage and contents coverage. Below is a breakdown of coverage between these two types as per the NFIP.
Electrical and plumbing systems
Furnaces and water heaters
Refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances like dishwashers
Permanently installed carpeting
Permanently installed cabinets, paneling and bookcases
Foundation walls, anchorage systems and staircases.
Fuel tanks, well water tanks and pumps and solar energy equipment
Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture and electronic equipment
Washer and dryer
Portable and window air conditioners
Carpets not included in building coverage (e.g., carpet installed over wood floors)
Valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)
What Isn't Covered by Flood Insurance?
There are some items that flood insurance may not cover, including retaining walls and decks, swimming pools, paper currency and other valuable documents. Additional living expenses are also not covered if your home is uninhabitable.
Below is a more comprehensive list of items not covered by flood insurance according to the NFIP.
Temporary housing and additional living expenses incurred while the building is being repaired or is unable to be occupied
Property outside of an insured building. For example, landscaping, wells, septic systems, decks and patios, fences, seawalls, hot tubs and swimming pools
Financial losses caused by business interruption
Currency, precious metals, stock certificates and other valuable papers
Cars and most self-propelled vehicles, including their parts
Personal property kept in basements
Keep in mind the definition of flood damage. According to the NFIP, flood damage refers to property damaged by an excess amount of water on land that would normally be dry. It must also affect two or more properties or two or more acres of land. This means water damage caused by plumbing issues does not meet the flood damage requirement. This would be considered water damage instead of flood damage. You would refer to your homeowner's insurance for these situations.
Remember, there are differences between what private insurance will cover and what NFIP insurance will cover. Currently, NFIP is responsible for providing the majority of flood insurance policies throughout the country with only a small fraction being underwritten by independent carriers. This trend appears to be changing though. While NFIP may be easier to qualify for, especially if you live in a higher risk zone, private insurance may offer some of the following benefits:
Max payout to rebuild home
2 weeks +
Additional coverage options
Personal property replacement cost, temporary living expenses, loss of use, covers damaged property in basements
*NFIP flood insurance will pay you the cash value of personal property lost in a flood. Cash value means replacement cost minus physical depreciation. For example, if your computer is five years old and is damaged by a flood, the NFIP insurance company will look at how much it costs to replace your computer and then subtract from that five years worth of depreciated value. They would then write a check for the original cost minus depreciation. This means you would likely not get the full amount necessary to replace your computer with a new one.
While private insurance may be less expensive in low-risk areas, you do want to consider the possibility of higher deductions. Also, unlike private insurance companies, the FDIP will not refuse any customer or cancel your policy. Ask your insurance advisor to help you determine the best policy to meet your needs.
Do I Need Flood Insurance?
This depends on where you live and your insurance carrier. Those living in what would be considered moderate to low-risk flood areas won't necessarily be required to have flood insurance. These flood zones are marked on flood maps with the letters B, C, and X. These areas have a smaller chance of seeing floods. It's worth mentioning that some carriers may still require customers to have flood insurance regardless of where the individual lives. For example, if your home is located in a high-risk flood area and your mortgage is federally backed, you will be required to have flood insurance. High-risk zones are marked with an A or V on a flood map with subgrades including AE, AH, AO, and VE.
Keep in mind one out of three claims come from moderate to low-risk areas. While you might not need flood insurance, it certainly helps to know you're covered should the unthinkable happen.
How Do I Get Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance can be purchased from two different sources:
NFIP - These flood insurance policies are offered through private companies but are actually insured by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Private Insurance Companies - These are insurance companies that underwrite their own policies separate from the federal government.
To obtain flood insurance, you can contact the individual private insurance companies that offer flood insurance and speak with an agent who will help you determine what coverage would best meet your needs. To purchase NFIP insurance you can visit their website directly to obtain a list of companies that are authorized to sell FEMA-backed flood insurance. Generally, you will need to fill out an application and provide information about your property, including the following:
Number of floors
Foundation type (slab on grade, basement, split level, etc.)
What Is Risk Rating 2.0?
Risk Rating 2.0 is an update to the NFIP's risk rating methodology through the application of a new pricing system that uses "industry best practices and cutting-edge technology" that allows FEMA to offer rates that give a better picture of a property's flood risks. This new system went into full effect April 1, 2022.
The system creates additional flood variables. This includes flood types, be they storm surges, heavy rain, river overflow, etc., the cost of rebuilding, the elevation of the property and the distance to water sources. These factors allow rates to be adjusted higher or lower.
Policyholders with low-valued homes are, according to FEMA, "paying more than their share of the risk" while those with high-value homes are paying significantly less. Risk Rating 2.0 addresses this by factoring in the cost of rebuilding a home. This means they can better generate premiums based on the value of the property and the flood zone the structure is near. Below is a graph taken from the Congressional Research Service showing how 2.0 affects the rates in each state.
The cost of flood insurance can vary significantly from state to state and a home's exact location within a state. You may even be required by your lender to carry it if you live in a high-risk zone. While not all areas are considered high-risk flood areas, it is nevertheless a good idea to have flood insurance because even low-risk areas experience flooding.
If you're leaning towards saving money and having higher coverage limits with a private insurer, why not get a new homeowners insurance while you're at it, to get the best bundle. Enter your zip code below and fill out a quick questionnaire, and within minutes SmartFinancial will send you free quotes for the lowest rates in your area.