How to Get Flood Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

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You can get flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private company.

Keep in mind that the federal government relies on private insurance companies to sell NFIP policies. That means you'll have to buy your flood insurance through a company regardless of whether you're going with federal or private flood insurance.

To get a flood insurance quote, call or search online for a flood insurance company in your area.

How to get flood insurance

The best way to get flood insurance is to find an agent or flood insurance company through or by calling the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Referral Call Center at (888) 379-9531.

Private flood insurance vs FEMA flood insurance

FEMA or NFIP flood insurance is widely available, but it might not cover the full cost of rebuilding your house. Private flood insurance isn't sold everywhere, but some policies have higher coverage limits or lower rates compared to federal flood insurance. lets you search for flood insurance companies in your area. Simply enter your state in the search bar, and the website will give you an alphabetical list of companies that sell flood insurance. Each company has a phone number and website listed alongside its name.

You can also call the NFIP Referral Call Center. A representative will connect you to a company or agent offering flood insurance coverage in your area. Remember, that both federal flood insurance and private flood insurance are sold by private companies. Some companies only sell FEMA flood insurance, some only sell private flood insurance and others sell both.

Do you need flood insurance?

Most people who live in areas at high risk for flooding should consider flood insurance.

Government-backed mortgages, such as VA and FHA loans, and some private lenders require that you buy flood insurance if you live in a high-risk area, called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA). You have a one in four chance of experiencing flooding over a 30-year period if you live in an SFHA.

Even if you don't live in a high-risk flood zone, it might make sense for you to consider flood insurance. Ninety-nine percent of U.S. counties had at least one flood between 1996 and 2019, and 40% of all NFIP claims are for homes in low-to-moderate risk areas.

With that said, it might not make sense to pay for flood insurance if you live in a low-risk area and you can afford unexpected repairs to your home.

Buying government flood insurance: The National Flood Insurance Program

Most Americans have access to National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insurance, which is run by the government but sold by private companies. Since the government sets NFIP flood insurance rates, you'll pay the same price regardless of which company you buy it from.

The NFIP sells policies with up to $250,000 worth of coverage for your home and up to $100,000 for your personal property. This level of coverage should cover the needs of most homeowners. If you need higher coverage limits, you should consider a private flood insurance policy.

The average cost of NFIP flood insurance is $818 per year or $68 per month.

Keep in mind that when setting rates FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Administration) considers factors like where you live and the value of your home. That means your FEMA flood insurance could cost more than your neighbor's if you live close to a body of water or you have an expensive home.

NFIP flood insurance has strict rules about what it will and will not pay for. For example, your clothing and furniture will typically be covered unless they're in your basement. On the other hand, NFIP flood insurance only pays for drywall walls and ceilings if they're located in a basement.

If you're not satisfied with your NFIP flood insurance coverage, you should look into a private flood insurance policy.

Buying private flood insurance

You should consider a private flood insurance policy if you want higher coverage limits.

Many private flood plans have significantly higher coverage limits compared to NFIP insurance. Remember, federal flood insurance limits coverage to $250,000 for your home and $100,000 for your possessions.

Many private companies sell flood insurance with coverage limits well into the seven and eight-figure range. For example, Chubb sells flood insurance policies with $15 million coverage limits and Neptune sells plans with up to $4 million in coverage for your home and $500,000 for your personal property.

NFIP flood insurance doesn't start until 30 days after you've bought a policy. That means if you buy federal flood insurance on April 1 and a flood happens on April 22, you can't file a claim.

However, private flood coverage can start in just two weeks, and at least one insurance company, Neptune, has a waiting period of just 10 days. In that case, someone with a private flood insurance policy could file a claim since more than two weeks have passed since they bought their policy.

Before you get private flood insurance, you should be aware of two major risks.

  • Your policy might not be renewed: Private companies have the option to cancel your policy at renewal time. You don't have to worry about that with federal flood insurance.

  • Not backed by the government: You could experience problems getting your claim handled if your company goes out of business or experiences financial difficulties.

If a company fails to renew your policy, you can usually get new coverage without a 30-day waiting period as long as you switch plans before your current coverage lapses. To protect against issues with claims, it's a good idea to buy your insurance through a large, well-established company.

What are the best flood insurance companies?

The best flood insurance company will depend on your individual needs and where you live. To comparison shop for the best flood insurance use or NFIP Referral Call Center at (888) 379-9531 to find flood insurance companies and agencies near you.

How to get cheap flood insurance

Comparison shopping NFIP and private flood insurance in your area is the best way to get the lowest rate.

Typically, FEMA has the cheapest flood insurance for high-risk areas. If you live in a low-risk area, you may get a better rate through a private company.

It's possible to qualify for one of two National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insurance discounts.

  1. First, you can take measures to flood-proof your home. For example, you can elevate your home either by lifting the house and building a new foundation or by building an elevated floor or new upper story.
  2. The second discount depends on where you live. If your city officials have taken certain flood prevention measures, you automatically get between 5% and 45% off your monthly rate. The steps your local government has taken to reduce your area's flood risk will determine the size of your discount.

Frequently asked questions

How do you get flood insurance?

To get flood insurance it's a good idea to find local agencies or companies that sell flood insurance through or by calling the NFIP Referral Call Center at (888) 379-9531.

You cannot buy NFIP insurance directly through the government.

Who is eligible for coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program?

Most Americans are eligible for coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You don't need to live in a high-risk area to be eligible for NFIP insurance. However, you do have to live in a participating community. Roughly 23,000 communities across the U.S. participate in the NFIP.

How much flood insurance do I need?

Ideally, you need enough flood insurance to cover your personal property and the cost of rebuilding your house. Federal flood insurance sells flood insurance with coverage limits that go up to $250,000 for your house and $100,000 for your personal property which is adequate for most people.

What does flood insurance not cover?

Flood insurance doesn't pay for damage to property outside your home like pools, patios and fences. It also won't cover lost income or temporary housing. Your homeowner's insurance will cover water damage caused by a leaky pipe or a sewer backup, and comprehensive auto insurance will pay for damage to your car.

How long is the policy period for NFIP flood insurance?

An NFIP flood insurance policy period lasts for one year. You have a 30-day grace period after your policy expires. During this time, you can file a claim with the NFIP as long as you pay your full renewal rate before those 30 days end.

Sources and methodology

Information about NFIP flood insurance rules and coverage came from and NFIP flood insurance rate data came from FEMA. Coverage limits and policy details for private flood insurance were taken from the Chub and Neptune websites.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.