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Massachusetts flood insurance
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Massachusetts is known for its coastline, including the famed Boston Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. All that coastline comes with a risk, though — flooding. Flood damage can be devastating, but many homeowners don’t know that flooding is not covered by standard home insurance policies. In fact, you’ll likely have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to obtain coverage. Because Massachusetts is at a high risk for flood damage, it’s important for homeowners to know their options when it comes to insurance coverage. Bankrate explains Massachusetts flood insurance and how having a sufficient policy could spare you from the devastating financial fallout of flood damage.
Do homeowners need flood insurance in Massachusetts?
Flood insurance is not required by law. However, Massachusetts has a history of flooding. According to the state government, more than 400,000 local residents live within a 100-year flood zone and have more than a 25 percent chance that their homes will flood at some point. While living within a flood zone is a good indicator of risk, it’s important to note that over 20 percent of flood claims come from homes outside of high-risk flood areas, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Many homeowners turn to flood insurance to help mitigate flood-related damage. Such a policy won’t reduce the chance of your home flooding, but it may significantly help with associated repair and replacement costs. In 2022, there were over $1,000,000 in payouts stemming from flood insurance claims in Massachusetts.
If you’re thinking about buying flood insurance, or even if you already have a policy, it’s important to understand what flood insurance does and doesn’t cover.
What flood insurance covers
Generally, flood insurance covers flood damage to:
- Electrical and plumbing systems
- Some appliances
- Permanently installed carpeting, paneling, cabinets and bookcases
- The structure of your home, including drywall, staircases and foundations
- Detached garages
- Personal belongings (if this coverage is purchased)
What flood insurance doesn’t cover
A flood insurance policy won’t cover everything. Here are some instances not covered by flood insurance:
- Temporary living expenses if your home is unlivable due to a flood
- Property outside of the covered building
- Money, precious metals and other forms or currency
- Contents kept in a basement
Cost of flood insurance in Massachusetts
The cost of flood insurance typically depends on various rating factors, such as your home’s location, but FEMA reports that the average rate is $700 per year. To determine what flood zone your home or property is in, you can input your address into FEMA’s flood map. The higher the risk of flooding in your area, the more you’re likely to pay for a policy.
In high-risk areas, flood insurance can be quite expensive and may be more than the cost of home insurance. Your provider will consider the following when determining your premium:
- Design of your home
- Age of your home
- Location of your home’s utilities
- Coverage amount
- Deductible amount
The building coverage portion of a flood insurance policy covers your foundation, electrical, plumbing, finishings, appliances, electronics, permanent carpet, furnaces, water heaters, permanent cabinetry and more. The contents portion of your policy covers personal belongings, microwaves, carpets, washers, dryers, artwork, other valuables and more. Standard policies have coverage limits of $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for the home’s contents.
Note that it may be possible to lower your flood insurance costs by employing certain strategies. FEMA and the NFIP suggest getting an elevation certificate, installing flood openings, filling in basements or relocating to reduce the potential impact of flood-related damage.
When to purchase flood insurance
Massachusetts homeowners insurance laws don’t legally require you to have flood insurance. Still, if you have a mortgage, your lender will likely require it if your home is in a special flood hazard area (SFHA), which is an area close to the water and low in elevation.
It’s typically best to purchase flood insurance as soon as you buy a home in a flood zone, and in fact, you’ll probably have to show proof of a policy before you’re cleared to close on your loan. If you’re nervous about an upcoming storm and don’t have flood insurance, you’ll likely still be able to purchase flood insurance, but keep in mind that there is usually a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes into effect.
Fortunately, there are exceptions where you don’t have to wait the full 30 days.
- If you’re purchasing flood insurance because your area’s flood map has changed and indicated your home is at risk, you have 13 months to buy flood insurance without a 30-day wait period for filing a claim. If you do this, there is only a one-day wait period.
- If you have just purchased, renewed, increased or extended a home loan, you may purchase flood insurance without a 30-day wait period.
How to purchase flood insurance in Massachusetts
The easiest way to purchase flood insurance is to call your homeowners insurance provider and speak with an agent. Some private insurers can help you purchase an NFIP policy and may even offer their own flood insurance. You can also call the NFIP Help Center at (800) 427-4661. An agent will get you a quote and can answer any additional questions you may have.
NFIP does not currently offer additional living expenses coverage or loss-of-use coverage with their policies. If you purchase an NFIP policy and floodwaters damage your home, it will be up to you to pay any additional housing and food costs out-of-pocket.