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Louisiana flood insurance
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Louisiana is prone to hurricanes and heavy rainfall that contribute to flood events. Flood damage can be widespread and devastating, so in a state like Louisiana, homeowners may want to know what steps to take to protect themselves from the financial fallout of floods. Standard home insurance policies don’t cover flooding, meaning Louisiana homeowners may want to consider purchasing a flood insurance policy. Bankrate explains how flood insurance works for Louisiana homeowners and strategies to find the right policy for you.
Do you need flood insurance in Louisiana?
According to data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 2,510 flood events occurred in Louisiana between 1996 and 2019. FEMA defines a flood as 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.”
Louisiana has spent billions of dollars in the last 20 years to rectify damage from hurricanes, yet many residents do not have flood insurance, possibly because they incorrectly assume their home insurance policy will pay for the damage caused by floods. Although flooding is a common natural disaster in Louisiana, it is specifically not covered by homeowners insurance policies. You’ll need a flood insurance policy to cover damage resulting from flooding. While you may not be required to carry flood insurance by law, if you have a mortgage in Louisiana, your lender may require it.
Louisiana flood insurance is available from some private insurers and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This program is managed by FEMA to provide flood insurance to property owners, renters and businesses. Louisiana residents may find it helpful to use NFIP flood maps to determine the level of flood risk in their area.
Read more: How to buy flood insurance coverage
Flood events in Louisiana
Louisiana's vulnerability to floods is well known, with several towns frequently experiencing this natural calamity. Baton Rouge, for example, faces regular floods due to its location along the Mississippi River. New Orleans is situated below sea level and surrounded by the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, making it highly susceptible to flooding. Smaller towns like Lafitte, Morgan City and Cameron, each with its own distinct challenges, also regularly confront flooding issues due to their coastal locations and other environmental factors.
|Vulnerabilities and key flood events
|Regular floods due to proximity to the Mississippi River.
|Catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Vulnerability due to being below sea level.
|Frequent flooding from tropical storms and hurricanes; coastal erosion issues.
|Floods from riverine sources and hurricanes due to its location near the Atchafalaya River.
|Recurring flooding and storm surges due to its location along the Gulf of Mexico.
The resilience of these communities in the face of such challenges highlights the importance of effective flood management and mitigation strategies in Louisiana.
How much is flood insurance in Louisiana?
According to FEMA, the average cost of flood insurance in Louisiana is $871 per year. However, the cost of your own flood insurance will depend on several factors. First, and perhaps most impactful, is your flood zone. Flood zones help determine how likely a flood is in your area. Areas with higher flood risk designations typically see higher premiums for flood insurance.
Additionally, the coverage you purchase will affect how much you pay. Flood policies sold by the NFIP only have two coverage options: dwelling coverage and personal property coverage. Dwelling coverage is the backbone of a flood insurance policy and covers the structure of your home, while personal property coverage (also called contents coverage) covers your belongings. A dwelling-only policy will probably be cheaper than buying both coverage types. Also, the more coverage you purchase, the more your policy will likely cost.
Your premium is also based on any flood mitigation features that you may have. Certain home features can decrease the risk of water damage from floods, like installing openings for the water to drain out and elevating your home. These features may help lower the cost of your policy.
Finally, it’s important to know that some private insurers do offer their own flood insurance, outside of NFIP government-backed policies. So, when it comes to figuring out how much flood insurance will be in Louisiana, note that rates will vary between carriers. As such, comparing flood insurance quotes could be a helpful shopping tactic.
How to purchase flood insurance in Louisiana
The NFIP offers federally supported flood insurance to homeowners and covers up to $250,000 for a building and $100,000 for building contents. Policies are available to anyone living in one of the 23,000 participating NFIP communities. There are policies available through private insurance carriers for properties valued above the coverage limits and for anyone wanting to compare prices. Plus, some carriers may be able to add flood coverage to your existing home policy for an additional cost or can help you facilitate the purchase of an NFIP policy.
When to purchase flood insurance
Whether you purchase from the NFIP or a private insurance company, most flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period. This means your policy won’t go into effect until 30 days after you’ve purchased the policy. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as for a loan closing.
Generally, you should give yourself plenty of time to shop for and buy a flood insurance policy. Most insurance carriers will not allow flood insurance to be purchased when a major storm is in the forecast. This pause in the sale of new policies is called a moratorium. If you know your home is at risk for flooding, you should consider getting a policy before any kind of damage is imminent.
Also, be aware that flood insurance isn’t always optional. If you have a mortgage or other type of home loan and live in a flood zone, a flood insurance policy will likely be mandatory. It is also important to note that, typically, flood insurance policies require full upfront payment of the premium.