Everything You Need to Know About Flood Insurance in Massachusetts

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If you live in a FEMA-designated high-risk flood zone in Massachusetts, you might have to find a flood insurance policy to satisfy your mortgage lender’s requirements. 
Many homeowners don’t realize it until it’s too late, but a standard home insurance policy typically doesn’t cover flood damage. It usually requires purchasing a separate flood insurance policy. The right protection can save you thousands if the unexpected does occur in your neighborhood.
While certain areas might have higher flood risks, flooding can happen anywhere—which is why it’s important to understand how flood insurance works in your state, no matter where you live. That’s why home and auto insurance comparison app Jerry is here to tell you what you need to know about flood insurance in Massachusetts—what it is, what it covers, what it costs, and more.
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What is flood insurance?

Flood insurance is property insurance that gives you financial protection against water damage caused by flooding.
A standard homeowners insurance policy might cover water damage in your home under certain covered perils, like a burst pipe, but it’s rare for it to include protection against damage from a water source outside your home. For protection against flood damage, you typically have to buy a separate flood insurance policy.
Without flood insurance, you could be on the hook for all repair and replacement costs if your house and possessions are ever damaged by flooding.

What does flood insurance cover?

In a general sense, flood insurance is just what it sounds like: it covers damage caused by flooding.
There are two types of flood insurance coverage: building coverage and contents coverage
Building coverage offers financial protection for your house, and contents coverage covers your personal possessions. Together, these two coverages give you protection for your electrical and plumbing systems, detached garages, appliances, clothing, carpets, cabinets, valuables, and more.
However, there are things that flood insurance won’t cover. That includes decks and patios, fences, swimming pools, septic systems, property stored in basements, and cars. It also won’t include loss of use coverage, which helps cover living expenses while your home is temporarily uninhabitable.
The cause of flooding also affects flood insurance coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines flooding as “an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties.”
If you were to experience a sewer backup in your home, it would only be covered by flood insurance if it was caused by flooding.
Here’s a closer look at what is and isn’t covered by both types of flood insurance coverage:
Type of coverageWhat it coversWhat it doesn’t cover
BuildingElectrical and plumbing systems Appliances like dishwashers or refrigerators Water heaters and furnaces Permanently installed paneling, bookcases, and cabinets Foundational walls, staircases, and anchorages Permanently installed carpets Window blinds Detached garages Fuel tanks, solar panels, and well water tanks/pumpsDecks and patios Swimming pools and hot tubs Fences and landscaping Septic systems
ContentsFurniture Electronics Clothing Washing machines and dryers Valuables (such as artwork) up to $2,500 Curtains Portable air conditioners, including window units Carpets not included in building coverage Valuable papers, including stock certificates Currency Precious metals Belongings stored in a basement Vehicles and their parts
If you have questions about specific items or structures being covered under flood insurance, you can contact your insurance agent.

Do you need flood insurance in Massachusetts?

While it’s not legally required to have flood insurance in Massachusetts, your mortgage lender might still require it.
This will be the case if you’re using a federally backed mortgage and the home you’ve purchased is in an area with a moderate to high risk of flooding. A private mortgage lender might also make flood insurance a requirement.
You can find a flood insurance policy through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private provider. The NFIP itself doesn’t provide flood insurance, but it can help you find an NFIP-backed provider in your area. 
You’ll need to live in a participating Massachusetts community to find a flood insurance policy backed by the NFIP, but if you discover that your community isn’t on the list, there are still private provider options available.
If your mortgage lender isn’t requiring you to have flood insurance, that doesn’t mean you don’t need it. Over 40% of NFIP claims from 2014 to 2018 were outside of FEMA’s high-risk flood zone areas.
Storms with heavy rains or broken water mains can happen nearly anywhere, and when events like this happen, flood insurance can end up saving you thousands.

What flood zones require flood insurance in Massachusetts?

Flood zones deemed high-risk by FEMA will begin with the letter A or V. These are properties that you will be required to purchase flood insurance for if you have a federally-backed mortgage.
Moderate- to low-risk flood zones are graded B, C, D, or X. However, this designation doesn’t mean your property’s immune to flooding—one in three flood insurance claims come from low- to moderate-risk areas.
In Massachusetts, the city with the most properties at risk of flooding is Boston, with nearly 20,000 or 19% of properties at risk.
To find out your property’s level of flood risk, you can view FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center or Flood Factor®
Key Takeaway You’ll be required to purchase a flood insurance policy if you have a federally-backed mortgage and live in a designated high-risk flood zone.

How much does flood insurance cost in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts has one of the highest average costs of flood insurance in the nation. In Massachusetts, the average cost of flood insurance is about $1,293 per year or about $108 per month. That’s notably higher than the national average cost of flood insurance of $739 per year
Coverage limits for homeowners are $250,000 for building coverage and $100,000 for contents coverage. Your provider might also establish a deductible limit on your flood insurance policy. 
When it comes to future flood insurance costs, changes are coming. In October 2021, FEMA instituted a new methodology called Risk Rating 2.0, which it says is aimed at more equitable flood insurance pricing.
To determine a property’s flood risk, Risk Rating 2.0 will look at factors like a property’s flood history, distance from a water source, risks for different types of floods, property characteristics (like elevation and soil type), and rebuilding costs.
The new pricing system went into effect for policyholders on October 1, 2021, and for existing policyholders, changes will be effective April 1, 2022.
Nearly 36% of flood insurance policyholders in Massachusetts are expected to see decreases in their flood insurance costs. Just under 54% of Massachusetts policyholders are expected to see an increase in coverage costs of $10 or less per month.

How to save money on flood and auto insurance in Massachusetts

Even if you don’t live in an area with a high risk of flooding, flood insurance protection can save you thousands if a flood ever does occur in your neighborhood. 
With Massachusetts flood insurance premiums being some of the highest in the country, here are a few options to consider if you’re looking to save on a flood insurance policy:
It’s also important to remember that flood insurance won’t cover damage to your vehicle—your car insurance policy will have to cover that. If you need a new car insurance policy, the Jerry app can help you find it!
After downloading the app and answering a few questions, Jerry will present you with insurance quotes from top providers, right at your fingertips. From there, you can pick the right policy for you at the right price.
That’s not where Jerry’s service stops, though. The Jerry app offers end-to-end support that can help you set up your new policy, and cancel your old one. That support also includes answering your questions about coverage, including flood damage. 
Getting started takes less than a minute, and Jerry users save an average of $887 per year on car insurance alone!
Jerry was fast and easy to use. Their customer service was so helpful in helping me navigate the situation my state is dealing with. Now I’m saving an extra $100 every 6 months!” —Tony C.
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