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Pennsylvania flood insurance
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Similar to many states, some parts of Pennsylvania are at risk of flooding. Floods can cause significant damage to homes. While homeowners insurance covers several perils, floods are generally excluded from standard policies and flood insurance must be purchased separately.
Do you need flood insurance in Pennsylvania?
According to the most recent data collected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 99 percent of U.S. counties have been impacted by a flooding event in the past 20 years. Pennsylvania homeowners are at particularly high risk, with the majority of the state experiencing 50 or more flooding incidents in any given year. Without Pennsylvania flood insurance, homeowners may be stuck paying out of pocket for damage caused by flooding.
The most flood-prone regions of the state include its southeastern, southwestern and northwestern counties. In 2022, Pennsylvania experienced significant flash flooding around Union City, wherein water levels reportedly reached the rooftops of evacuated homes.
The average claims payout for flooding in Pennsylvania is more than $20,000. As such, Pennsylvania homeowners might want to consider purchasing a flood insurance policy to protect against financial hardship caused by flood damage.
For some Pennsylvania homeowners, flood insurance is not optional. For instance, if you have a mortgage, it’s possible that your lender will require flood insurance as a contingency of the loan. Flood insurance protects the lender financially in the event that your home is badly damaged by a flood event before the mortgage is fully paid off.
Cost of flood insurance in Pennsylvania
Many factors influence the cost of flood insurance in Pennsylvania, including location, home value, claims history and more. While the cost of your individual flood insurance policy will vary, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports that the average customer pays $700 annually.
In 2021, FEMA started using the Risk Rating 2.0 methodology to determine the flood risk of individual homeowners to make flood insurance premiums more fair. Some of the flood-related factors used to calculate premiums are flood frequency, flood types, distance to a water source, elevation and cost to rebuild.
Premiums may be more or less depending on the following information:
- Flood risk: The greater the flood risk in your location, the higher your rates may be.
- Type and amount of coverage: The more coverage you have, the higher your rates will tend to be. This applies to both how many structures are listed on your policy and how high your coverage limits are.
- Deductible: In general, lower deductibles are associated with lower rates, while higher deductibles demand higher rates. The idea is that customers take on more of the risk themselves when they have a higher deductible.
- Location: The location of your property can have a significant impact on flood risk, as well as the associated cost to repair your home. For instance, locations that are more difficult to reach may have higher costs of repairs.
- Design and age of home: Depending on how and when your home was built, it may be more or less susceptible to flood damage. In general, the more susceptible your home is, the higher your rates will be for flood insurance.
- Insurance company: You can purchase flood insurance through the NFIP or some private insurers.
Per FEMA and NFIP experts, you may be able to save on flood insurance by lowering your flood risk, increasing your deductible, obtaining proof of elevation or engaging in community-wide risk mitigation efforts. While not all of these tips will work for everyone, hopefully, most can find one or more actionable items that will help limit flood insurance costs.
When to purchase flood insurance
Many flood insurance policies require policyholders to wait at least 30 days before coverage becomes active. This is why it’s important for homeowners to secure coverage well before a storm is expected to arrive. While there is no “right” time to purchase flood insurance, shopping for a policy the moment you realize your home falls within a region of increased risk can save you a lot of trouble in the future.
In Pennsylvania, residents tend to experience the most flooding during the spring. Therefore, it may be a good idea to purchase a policy prior to the spring thaw so you have active coverage when you might need it most. To determine if your home is in a flood-prone area, you can search for your address on the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.
How to purchase flood insurance in Pennsylvania
As mentioned, there are a few ways to purchase flood insurance in Pennsylvania. You can get a policy through the NFIP or a private flood insurance carrier.
The NFIP is a federally-funded flood insurance program that issues policies through major carriers in Pennsylvania like Allstate, Auto-Owners and The Hartford. You can purchase a residential policy with up to $250,000 in building coverage and up to $100,000 in contents coverage. Policies must be purchased separately, and each has its own deductible.
With NFIP flood coverage, there is a 30-day waiting period before your coverage will take effect. There are only a handful of situations where the waiting period is waived, such as if you just bought a new house.
The other option is to get private flood insurance, which is offered by some Pennsylvania insurance carriers. One of the benefits of private flood insurance is that the waiting period might be shorter than 30 days depending on the provider.
No matter how you buy flood coverage, insurance companies usually require flood insurance premiums to be paid for up front and in full, rather than in monthly installments.
If you are looking for a company that sells flood insurance, you can use this flood insurance provider tool to help you find carriers near you. Once you’ve selected a company, an agent will typically walk you through the final steps of purchasing your flood insurance policy.