What is Flood Insurance and How Do I Get It?

Flood insurance covers your home and personal property against flood damage, and you can purchase it through the NFIP or private insurance companies.
Written by Payton Ternus
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Flood insurance covers your home and personal belongings against flood damage. The average cost of flood insurance is $739 per year. It’s not required, but it is highly recommended for most homeowners.
Whether you own your home or rent, flooding is the most common natural disaster that can threaten your home. Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover flood damage, so you’ll need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy.
Flood insurance is highly recommended coverage to have—that’s why
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What is flood insurance?

Flood insurance is a specialized type of insurance that covers damage to your home and personal belongings caused by flooding. It is not included in homeowners or renters policies, so you’ll need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to have this coverage.
Flood insurance will cover damage caused by various kinds of inundation, like an overflowing river, heavy downpour, or a storm surge during a hurricane. Keep in mind that inundation typically refers to severe-weather related events, and will not cover other flood damage like a minor basement flood or sump pump failure.
Key Takeaway Flood insurance isn’t included in standard homeowners or renters policies, so you’ll need to buy a separate policy to protect your home from flood damage.

What does flood insurance cover?

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) underwrites and provides flood insurance policies. Flood insurance policies sold or underwritten by the NFIP have two types of coverage: 
  • Building coverage will pay for flood damage to the structure of the home itself. You can buy building coverage up to $250,000, and it will cover parts of your home like built-in appliances, electrical and plumbing systems, foundation walls, furnaces, permanently installed cabinets, and water heaters. 
  • Contents coverage will pay for flood damage to your personal belongings. You can buy contents coverage up to $100,000 for actual cash value, and it includes artwork, clothing, curtains, furniture, washers, and dryers. 
Each coverage has its own separate deductible you’ll need to meet. You may be able to buy flood insurance policies with higher coverage limits and broader coverage through private insurance companies that do not work with the NFIP. 

What isn’t covered by flood insurance?

Like most insurance policies, flood insurance policies have exclusions that aren’t covered. Standard NFIP flood insurance policies will not cover: 
  • Additional living expenses if you cannot stay in your home while it is being repaired
  • Currency
  • Decks
  • Earth movement and mudslides
  • Landscaping
  • Mildew, moisture, or mold
  • Patios
  • Personal property stored in basements
  • Pools
  • Some water damage (sump pump failures, an overflowing bathtub, etc.)
  • Vehicles
  • Valuable papers
Flood insurance policies offered by private insurance companies usually have fewer exclusions and more coverage. Depending on the provider, they may offer services like pool cleanup or offer additional living expenses. 

Do I need flood insurance?

If you live in a high-risk flood zone, you are required to buy a flood insurance policy in order to qualify for a federally-backed mortgage. It’s not uncommon for mortgage lenders to have a flood insurance requirement. 
Homeowners living in low-risk flood zones are not legally required to have a flood insurance policy. However, it is highly recommended to have flood insurance no matter where you live. Low-risk flood zones are not exempt from flooding—from 2014 to 2018, over 40% of NFIP claims came from households located outside of high-risk zones.
Even if flood insurance is not a condition of your mortgage or a legal requirement, it’s still a good idea to purchase a policy. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S., and they cause a lot of damage. Just one foot of water can cause over $29,000 in damages!

How to get flood insurance

You have two main options when it comes to buying flood insurance: the NFIP and private insurance companies
The NFIP provides homeowners with access to federally-backed flood insurance. Anyone can buy a flood insurance policy from the NFIP, regardless of flood risk level, as long as they live in one of over 24,000 communities participating in the program. Over 60 insurance companies work with the NFIP to sell flood insurance policies.
If NFIP flood insurance isn’t available in your community, you can buy a policy from a private insurance company. Private insurers make flood insurance available to areas that aren’t covered under NFIP due to their insufficient FEMA-designated risk level. Their premiums may be cheaper than NFIP too, so make sure you get multiple quotes while you shop!
There is usually a waiting period between the date you buy flood insurance and the date it goes into effect. NFIP policies generally have a 30 day waiting period, while private companies can have shorter periods of 10 or 15 days. You may also need to provide an elevation certificate to your insurance company if you live in a high-risk flood zone.

How much does flood insurance cost?

According to the NFIP’s rates in 2021, the average cost of flood insurance in the U.S. is $739 per year. Flood insurance for homeowners will be more expensive, but renters can find more affordable policies. For contents-only coverage, renters can buy flood insurance from the NFIP as low as $99 for the year.
On October 1, 2021, FEMA implemented a new methodology to calculate flood insurance premiums called Risk Rating 2.0. It takes more factors into account, like rebuilding cost and flooding frequency, to price insurance rates more equitably. Around 23% of policyholders will have lower premiums, and the rest will pay the same or slightly more starting April 2022.

How to save on flood insurance

Flood insurance can be expensive, so it’s nice to save money when you can. You can choose lower coverage limits and a higher deductible on your flood insurance policy, but this is only recommended if you can afford to pay that much in the event of a flood.
There are some home improvements you can work on to lower your flood insurance premiums. Installing flood vents and elevating your electrical, cooling, or heating systems can reduce your home’s flood damage risk and save you some extra money on your policy.

How to save on car and home insurance

Flood insurance protects your home against flood damage and is excellent coverage to have in addition to your home insurance. Your valuable property needs to be protected, and the car and
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