Florida flood insurance

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Katrina, Dorian, Ivan, Irma and Matthew. If you are a Floridian, chances are that you recognize the names of these powerhouse storms that have rocked the state over the years.

As a Southern state with open exposure to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida is a state that sits pretty until hurricane season rolls into town each year from June 1st until November 30th.

Most Florida residents already know that if you’re going to live in the Sunshine State, you need to be prepared for the sweeping storms that can accompany life here. Florida has been home to some of the worst hurricanes in history, and the 2020 season has turned out to be one for the record books.

You cannot afford to go without flood insurance when you live in Florida. However, this does not come with the standard homeowners policy, so you’re on your own to protect yourself.

This is what you need to know.

Why Florida homeowners need flood insurance

Based on research compiled by the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were a total of 5.7 million flood insurance policies in the U.S. in 2018. That same year, 31,801 claims were filed for a total sum of $1.35 billion in damage.

The average policyholder’s claim costs a little more than $42,500. These are big losses when you don’t have flood coverage. Just a single inch of floodwater can cost up to $25,000 in damages.

Numbers from the III show that Florida is not nearly as bad as Louisiana, Texas and South Carolina when it comes to hurricane damage. Still, hurricanes do come to town, and the power of the frequent summer storms is enough to wreak havoc throughout the state.

Where Florida is most at risk is its storm surge. With large bodies of water all around it, it incurs some of the very worst storm surge damage. Florida has six out of III’s top ten metropolitan areas for storm surge risk. In the Miami area alone, nearly 800,000 homes are at risk.

Flood insurance is considered more of a regional hazard and is not a part of the standard homeowners insurance coverage. It is supplemental insurance that’s likely needed to protect your home, but it’s not available everywhere.

Cost of flood insurance in Florida

Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and several private insurers, with the backing of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). NFIP insurance is available when you live in an area that supports floodplain management ordinances; currently, there are 23,000 NFIP communities.

FEMA’s Flood Maps denote high-flood zones with an A or Z, while X, C and B flood zones are all considered lower-risk areas. FEMA may assist if the storm is bad enough to be designated as a federal emergency, but grants are usually far less than the average $42,500 claim. If the storm does not receive an emergency declaration, you will get nothing.

The average flood insurance policy with the NFIP costs $723 each year in Florida. It may be possible to find a better policy with a private insurer or earn additional savings based on your home’s characteristics.

Before you select a policy, check with your mortgage company to see what, if any, specific requirements exist for your flood insurance.

When to purchase flood insurance

If there are reports of a storm coming your way, it’s already too late to protect your home with flood insurance.

Many flood policies require a 30-day waiting period before your coverage kicks in, so it’s always important to plan ahead and buy your coverage early before that next big storm comes your way.

How to purchase flood insurance in Florida

When you are ready to buy, you can choose to purchase your flood insurance policy from either NFIP Direct or from FEMA’s network of private insurance companies.

Your insurance agent can help you navigate your policy’s details, or you call the NFIP at 1-877-336-2627. You can also use the federal search tool to find a flood insurance provider who can help.

III highlights the top 10 writers of private flood insurance in 2019 by market share

Frequently asked questions

Do I need flood insurance if I have homeowners insurance?

Yes. Homeowners insurance does not usually cover flood damage. As a Florida homeowner, it is always a good idea to have both homeowners and flood insurance since you never know what each season will bring.

Do I need flood insurance if I’m a renter?

Landlords will usually insure the building or property you are renting, but this coverage fails to protect your personal belongings. If you rent your home, contents-only flood insurance is an excellent solution to protect for your most valued belongings.

Does everyone need flood insurance?

If 2020 has shown us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. A hurricane is not the only thing that can cause flooding. Summer and winter storms are also to blame for many flood claims, so it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution and consider protecting yourself with this coverage.

Will federal disaster assistance cover my flood damages?

We hear of FEMA delivering support after a particularly bad storm, but this kind of help is far from guaranteed. To receive FEMA aid, you must live within a federally-declared disaster area. Additionally, these funds must often be repaid within a certain timeframe. By having your own flood insurance policy, you can bypass the red tape and get the support you need.