California Flood Insurance Costs & Coverage Requirements

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The average cost of a National Flood Insurance Program policy in California is $811 per year.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies don't cover flood damage, but you can purchase a flood policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private insurer. You may find lower rates and higher coverage limits through a private flood insurance company.

How much does flood insurance cost in California?

The average cost of flood insurance in California is $811 per year through the NFIP.

Average prices vary significantly by location. For instance, the average flood insurance policy in Long Beach is $1,133 per year. That's more than twice as expensive as in Sacramento, where the typical cost is $548.

City
Annual rate
Difference from state average
Los Angeles$729-10%
San Diego$90211%
San Jose$89010%
San Francisco$743-8%
Fresno$662-18%
Sacramento$548-32%
Long Beach$1,13340%
Oakland$732-10%
Bakersfield$618-24%
Anaheim$8667%

If you want to get the cheapest flood insurance in California, compare rates from the NFIP against rates from private flood insurance companies. This isn't always an option, as some mortgage lenders require NFIP flood insurance, but a private insurer may be able to provide both cheaper rates and higher coverage limits.

The cost of flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program also depends on your home's elevation, whether you have a basement and how close it is to a river, lake or the coast. For example, a house with a basement will have higher rates than one without. Your rate will also vary depending on the deductibles you choose for building and contents coverage.

NFIP flood insurance policies have deductibles between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on the amount you're willing to pay out of pocket in the event of flood damage. The higher your deductible, the less you'll pay each month for flood insurance coverage.

California flood insurance coverage

No matter the state, federally-backed flood insurance policies have limits of $250,000 for your home's structure and $100,000 for personal property.

NFIP flood insurance policy options are the same at every insurer nationwide. Your policy won’t cover damage to basements or additional living expenses if you have to temporarily relocate. The policy also won't protect your vehicle, as you would need to purchase a comprehensive car insurance policy in order to cover flood damage.

A flood insurance policy covers several risks faced by California homeowners, including:

  • Overflow of inland and tidal waters, such as rivers that can flood during heavy rain.
  • Mudflow over areas that are normally dry.
  • Levee breaks.

However, flood insurance typically won't cover earth movements like landslides or sinkholes, even if they're caused by a flood. And California homeowners still need to purchase separate coverage for other earth-movement risks, including earthquakes.

Do you need flood insurance in California?

Flood insurance isn't required for homeowners in California, but it’s typically mandated by mortgage lenders if your house is in a high-risk flood zone. These "special flood hazard areas" are re-evaluated over time, so it's best to check the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Flood Maps to determine whether your house is considered at high risk of flooding.

A map of California's flood zones shows whether you need flood insurance to obtain a federally-backed mortgage. This is typically the case for zones that start with A or V, which have a 1% chance of flooding per year — which translates to a 26% chance over the course of a 30-year mortgage. If your home is in an area labeled Zone B, X or C, it has less than a 1% annual chance of flooding, and you generally won't be required to purchase flood insurance.

However, even if it's not required, it's typically a good idea to consider flood insurance unless your home is far from any dams or levees and at a higher elevation than most of the surrounding area. If a flood occurs, damage to your property won't be covered by your homeowners insurance, as flooding is typically excluded from these policies. And you're unlikely to receive government assistance unless a federal disaster is declared.

Risks of flooding in California

The majority of California is at risk of flooding, and every county has been declared a flood disaster area at least once. In recent years, heavy rain in northern and central California has caused rivers to flood and damage the surrounding area.

These floods can damage your house and property. While flood insurance won't cover all issues and has limits, you may easily have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses yourself if you have no coverage in place.

Only 1% of California homes have a flood policy, even in counties like San Francisco and Los Angeles, despite the high risk of storms and floods across the state.

Mariposa County has the lowest percent of homes with flood insurance policies, likely because it's located further inland and has a lower-than-average risk of flooding compared to the rest of the state. Sutter County, which has a high risk of flooding from winter storms and nearby dams, has the highest percent of homes with flood insurance policies.

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