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If your Wisconsin home is in a flood zone deemed high-risk by FEMA, your mortgage lender might require you to purchase flood insurance.
While some areas are at a higher risk than others, flooding events can happen virtually anywhere. Because flooding is such a common disaster, standard home insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by flooding. If you need financial protection from this event, you’ll need to invest in a separate policy.
It’s vital to understand how flood insurance works and your area’s level of risk. That’s why home and auto insurance comparison app Jerry is here to give you the rundown on flood insurance in Wisconsin—including what it is, what it covers, and how much it costs.
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What is flood insurance?
Flood insurance is a type of insurance that gives you financial protection against losses and damages due to flooding.
Home insurance usually covers some forms of water damage in your home due to covered perils, like a burst or frozen pipe. However, a standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t include coverage against flood damage caused by natural disasters or weather.
You’ll need to buy separate insurance policies to protect from a flash flood, stormwater surge, and the like.
What does flood insurance cover?
There are two types of flood insurance coverage: building coverage and contents coverage. Building coverage will protect the structure of your home, while contents coverage covers your personal possessions.
Together, these coverages help protect your appliances, furniture, valuables, electrical and plumbing systems, and more.
Flood insurance doesn’t cover absolutely everything, however. For instance, vehicles and all items stored in your basement will not be covered.
Not every type of flooding is covered, either—the cause has to be large-scale flooding, which the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) defines as “two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties.”
Flooding events that would warrant coverage include:
- Unusual and/or rapid surface water accumulation or runoff from a source
- Overflow of inland or tidal waters
- Collapse of land along a shoreline due to erosion caused by waves or water currents exceeding expected levels
Here’s a more detailed look at what is and isn’t covered under both types of flood insurance:
|Type of coverage||What it covers||What it doesn’t cover|
|Building||Electrical and plumbing systems Water heaters and furnaces Refrigerators, dishwashers, and other large appliances Permanently installed bookcases, cabinets, and paneling Permanently installed carpets Window blinds Foundation walls, staircases, anchorage systems Detached garages Fuel tanks Solar panels Well water tanks/pumps||Decks and patios Swimming pools Fences and landscaping|
|Contents||Clothing Furniture Electronics Curtains Washing machines, dryers Portable and window air conditioners Carpets not included in building coverage Valuables such as jewelry or artwork up to $2,500||Valuable papers Currency Precious metals Items stored in a basement|
Do you need flood insurance in Wisconsin?
There’s no statewide legal requirement for you to have a flood insurance policy in Wisconsin, but your mortgage lender might require you to purchase one.
This will be the case if you’re using a federally-backed mortgage for a property in moderate- and high-risk flood zones. It’s likely that a private lender will require flood insurance in these areas, too.
Flood events can happen anywhere, and just because your area has a statistically low chance of flooding doesn’t mean your items aren’t vulnerable to damage. More than 40% of claims filed by homeowners with the NFIP are outside of FEMA-designated high-risk flood zones.
You can find flood insurance policies through the NFIP or a private provider.
To purchase a flood insurance policy backed by the NFIP, you’ll have to live in a participating Wisconsin community—you can check to see if yours is on FEMA’s list here. If you don’t live in a participating community, you can look for policies from private companies like Neptune.
What flood zones require flood insurance in Wisconsin?
Federally-backed mortgages (e.g., FHA or VA loans) will require you to purchase flood insurance in Wisconsin if your property lies within a high-risk flood zone. High-risk zones are indicated with the letter A or V.
Properties within these zones have a 26% chance of flooding within 30 years.
Flood zones beginning with B, C, D, or X will have a lower risk of flooding, so you wouldn’t be required to purchase flood insurance with a federally-backed mortgage. Still, flooding is always a possibility, so all homeowners should consider investing in a flood policy.
Not sure what your home’s level of flood risk is? You can check using FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center or Flood Factor®.
Key Takeaway While having flood insurance isn’t a legal requirement in Wisconsin, you might have to purchase a policy to satisfy the requirements of your mortgage lender if you live in a high-risk flood zone.
How much does flood insurance cost in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, the average flood insurance premium is about $1,028 per year, or $86 per month, which is slightly higher than the national average of about $958 per year.
Like your home insurance policy, how much your flood insurance policy will cost varies depending on where you live, the level of flood risk, the size and age of your home, and so on.
Keep in mind that insurance payouts aren’t infinite: through the NFIP, coverage limits for residential customers are $250,000 for building coverage and $100,000 for contents coverage. Your provider will give you several deductible options.
Milwaukee has some of the most high-risk properties in the state: more than 12,000 (about 8%) of its properties are at substantial risk of flooding. Oconto has the greatest proportion of properties at risk, with 58% of them vulnerable to flooding.
Flood insurance pricing may see some changes in the near future as the NFIP rolls out its Risk Rating 2.0 pricing methodology. New policies were priced using this system starting in October 2021. Existing policies will be subject to updated pricing upon renewal on or after April 2022.
For Wisconsin residents, 43.5% of policyholders are expected to see rates decrease, while 53.1% are expected to see an increase of $10 or less per month.
How to save money on flood and auto insurance in Wisconsin
Flood insurance can protect your home and many of your important possessions, but don’t forget that a flood insurance policy won’t cover damage to your car. You’ll want to make sure your car insurance policy provides the protection you need.
Not sure where to start? Jerry can help you! Once you download the app, you can review competitive quotes from top insurance providers to find the right coverage at the right price. You can even bundle with your home insurance for additional savings.
Once you find the right policy, Jerry’s end-to-end support can help you with setting up that new policy and canceling your old one. Later, when your policy’s up for renewal, Jerry will even find you new quotes automatically so you can make sure you’re still getting a good deal.
“I have been with the same insurance provider for over 10 years. Jerry found me a new policy with Travelers that is $107/month cheaper. The pandemic has made finances tight, but Jerry helped me out.” —Gabriel T.
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