Florida flood insurance

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The Sunshine State may have a glowing nickname, but hurricanes and heavy rains are common, and these storms often bring flooding. Despite a moderate-to-severe risk of flood damage in most Florida counties, only 13% of households have flood insurance. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by floods, so understanding your home’s flood risk and how to safeguard your finances is an important part of living in Florida.

Bankrate researched Florida flood insurance to help you understand if this type of coverage is right for you. We’ll discuss why Floridians might need flood insurance, how much a policy could cost, when to purchase your policy and how to get quotes. Understanding your home’s risk of sustaining flood damage and having our insight could help you feel confident in your insurance decisions.

Why Florida homeowners need flood insurance

Of the top 15 metropolitan areas in the United States at risk for storm surge and hurricane wind damage, six are in Florida. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) notes that the average claim payout for Florida flood damage is $28,900. Flood insurance can help pay for the devastating damage that floods can cause — even one inch of water can cause up to $25,000 in damage to a home. However, despite the risk, only 13% of Floridian households have flood insurance.

Flood insurance is not a part of standard homeowners insurance coverage. Many homeowners mistakenly think that flood damage will be covered by their home insurance policy, only to find out that they must pay for damages out of pocket. Considering and potentially purchasing flood insurance before a flood event happens could help you protect your finances from the threat of costly repairs.

Cost of flood insurance in Florida

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

FEMA uses flood zones to determine how likely flooding is in a given area. Different flood zone designations have different risk levels. Generally, zones B, C and X have a moderate-to-low risk of flooding, while zones that start with A or V have a higher risk. Subzones, like zone AE or zone V1, exist within the high-risk zones to give a more detailed view of the risk in that area. A location with a zone D designation means no mapping has been done in that area, and the flood risk is unknown. Generally, the higher the risk of flooding in your area, the more expensive your policy is likely to be.

The average flood insurance policy with the NFIP costs $700 each year in the U.S. However, your rate will depend on your specific rating factors, including your flood risk and how much coverage you need. Private insurers that offer flood insurance will also likely have different rates than the NFIP, so your price could be higher or lower depending on the company you choose.

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

Most flood policies require a 30-day waiting period before your coverage kicks in, so planning ahead and buying your coverage well before a storm is essential. If a storm is coming your way, it’s already too late to protect your home with flood insurance. A few exceptions to the 30-day waiting period exist, including if you are closing on a loan or if your home is newly mapped into a high-risk area. Still, for most homeowners, coverage will start 30 days after purchasing a flood policy.

How to purchase flood insurance in Florida

When you are ready to buy, you might want to get quotes for NFIP coverage as well as private market flood insurance. If you choose to purchase insurance from the NFIP, you can purchase your flood insurance policy from NFIP Direct or an insurance company that helps facilitate NFIP policies.

You can also contact private insurance companies that offer their own flood insurance. These policies will be underwritten by a private insurer, not by the government. Rates for private flood insurance likely vary from NFIP rates, and you may have different coverage options.

The Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I)I highlights the top 10 writers of private flood insurance in 2020 by market share:

Frequently asked questions

Do I need flood insurance if I have homeowners insurance?

You might. Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage automatically, although a few companies offer flood insurance as an endorsement. Most people will need to purchase a standalone flood insurance policy. If you have a mortgage or any other type of home loan and you are in a flood zone, you’ll likely have to buy flood insurance as a condition of your loan. If you don’t have a mortgage, assessing your flood risk could help you decide if a policy is right for you.

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

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

Does everyone need flood insurance?

If you have a mortgage or home loan and your home is at risk for flood damage, you’ll probably have to buy a flood insurance policy. If you aren’t required to buy one, the decision is highly personal. But knowing that floods can happen for many reasons — hurricanes and heavy rain included — and understanding your home’s risk might help you decide if a policy is right for you. If you aren’t sure if you should buy flood insurance, talking with an agent might be helpful.

Will federal disaster assistance cover my flood damages?

We hear about 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.

What is considered a flood?

According to FEMA, a flood is “A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties,” including your own property. Floods can be the result of inland or tidal waters overflowing, the accumulation of surface water, mudslides or shoreline collapse. Many homeowners use the word “flood” to describe any kind of water accumulation in their home, including sewer backup, but these types of damages are not true floods.

Written by
Lena Borrelli
Insurance Contributor
Lena Muhtadi Borrelli has several years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as allconnect, Healthline and Reviews.com. She previously worked for Morgan Stanley.
Edited by
Insurance Editor