Everything You Need to Know About Flood Insurance in Rhode Island

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Rhode Island homes and buildings in high-risk flood areas with federally-backed mortgages must have flood insurance. Residents in low-to-moderate risk areas with federally backed mortgages are typically not required to have flood insurance. 
But what happens if you have a private mortgage lender? That depends. Many lenders require homeowners to acquire flood insurance, no matter where they live, for the life of the loan. 
If this all sounds complicated, don’t worry. This guide from home and auto insurance comparison app Jerry will tell you everything you need to know about flood insurance in Rhode Island—from who needs to buy it to how much it costs. 
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What is flood insurance?

Flood insurance is specific coverage that protects homeowners from property loss caused directly by flooding. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a flood is “A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property).”
Standard homeowners policies do not cover flood damage, no matter the water source. It is essential to understand the flood risk and your insurance options to protect your home. 

What does flood insurance cover?

Flood insurance covers losses directly caused by flooding. Standard property insurance, such as homeowners insurance, does not protect you from flood damage. 
According to FEMA, you can get insurance covering your building, its contents, or both. Here is what each typically includes: 
Building coverage: 
  • The structure and its foundation
  • HVAC equipment, such as water heaters and central air units
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • Permanently installed carpeting
  • Built-in appliances, refrigerators, and stoves
Contents coverage
  • Portable appliances, such as microwaves and window air conditioners
  • Furniture
  • Window treatments and area rugs
  • Electronic equipment
  • Clothing 
Building coverage is capped at $250,000, and contents (or personal property) are capped at $100,000. In addition, valuables, such as jewelry or art, are capped at $2,500.
These numbers and coverages are based exclusively on NFIP policies: private insurers may offer different parameters and higher limits. 
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what’s covered (and what isn’t) under each type of insurance:
Type of coverageWhat it coversWhat it doesn’t cover
BuildingElectrical and plumbing systems, water heaters and furnaces, large appliances like dishwashers or refrigerators, permanently installed bookcases, cabinets, and paneling, permanently installed carpets, window blinds, foundational walls, staircases, and anchorages, detached garages, fuel tanks, solar panels, and well water tanks/pumpsDecks and patios, swimming pools, fences and landscaping
ContentsClothing, furniture, electronic equipment, curtains, washing machine and dryer, portable air conditioners, including window units, carpets not included in-building coverage, valuables such as artwork up to $2,500Valuable papers, currency, anything stored in a basement
Key Takeaway It is important to note that it takes 30 days for a new NFIP flood policy to go into effect. Therefore, it is critical that you enroll far before you think you’ll need it. 

Do you need flood insurance in Rhode Island?

The state of Rhode Island doesn’t mandate flood insurance, but if you live in a high-risk area, your mortgage lender may require it. 
In Little Rhody, where flooding is a year-round problem, it may be wise to purchase flood insurance even if it’s not required. Providence, in particular, is susceptible due to its coastline and rivers: there, 5,176 properties, or 13% of all properties, are at risk.
A flood insurance policy can help protect you from costly repairs to your home and return it to its previous state.

What flood zones require flood insurance in Rhode Island?

Anyone who lives in a community enrolled in the NFIP is eligible to purchase flood insurance: you can find out if your town is one of the roughly 22,000 participating communities by visiting the NFIP Community Status Book
That said, you are not required to purchase flood insurance unless you live in a federally designated high-risk flood area. 
High-risk areas are zones that start with A or V on the FEMA flood maps. Homeowners face a one-in-four chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage (or a 1% chance each year) in these areas.
Keep in mind that FEMA updates their flood maps annually, so even if you don’t live in a designated high-risk zone now, you may in the future. On top of that, living in a low-risk zone doesn’t mean that your property won’t flood: residents in these areas account for about 25% of all NFIP flood insurance claims and receive one-third of federal disaster assistance for flooding. 
Key Takeaway There is no such thing as a “no-risk” flood zone. No matter where you live (especially if it’s near a coastline or body of water), there is always a chance your property could flood.

How much does flood insurance cost in Rhode Island?

The average NFIP flood insurance policy in Rhode Island costs $1,416 per year or $118 a month. It is one of the three most expensive states for NFIP coverage—well above the national average of $739 per year
If your home is in a low-risk area, finding cheaper rates and better coverages may be possible through a private broker. 

How to save money on flood and auto insurance in Rhode Island

Your Rhode Island flood insurance premium is based on various factors, but there are a few ways you can save each year: 
Since flood insurance doesn’t cover cars, you’ll always want to make sure you have the best car insurance policy with home and auto insurance expert Jerry
It’s this simple: download the Jerry app or go to getjerry.com. In less than 45 seconds, Jerry collects all of your information from your existing insurer. Choose from competitive quotes from top insurance companies, and Jerry takes care of the rest—securing your new policy and helping you cancel your old one upon request. 
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“I will definitely recommend Jerry to my friends! I was pretty happy with my Progressive insurance, but Jerry helped me bring the cost down even more. Good job Jerry team!” —Kristy K.

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