Cost of Flood Insurance in Louisiana and How Coverage Works

Cost of Flood Insurance in Louisiana and How Coverage Works

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Flood insurance is a type of insurance that protects your home and its contents from damage due to seasonal flooding. Flood insurance is not legally mandated statewide in Louisiana. However, people who live in certain areas that are at a high risk of flooding, like along the bayou or the Mississippi River, will need to purchase it in order to qualify for a federally backed mortgage. The two main options for flood insurance are: coverage purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a public entity run by FEMA, or coverage from a private insurer. Generally, private flood insurance is a secondary choice, as private insurers do not provide coverage in as many areas as the NFIP.

Do You Need Flood Insurance in Louisiana?

For the most part, flood insurance is not required by law for Louisiana residents. However, homeowners who live in certain high-risk flood areas will need to purchase flood insurance in order to qualify for a federally backed mortgage loan. High-risk areas include those along the coast, a low-lying area like a bayou or places close to another body of water like the Mississippi or Atchafalaya rivers. Even areas that are simply low-lying compared to their surrounding region can be at risk—with 60 inches of rain per year, Louisiana is the wettest state in the continental U.S.

If you're not required to purchase flood insurance, it may still be worthwhile to buy coverage. Louisiana homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies do not cover flood damage, and 25% of flood insurance claims are made by people outside of high-risk flood zones. What's more, flood insurance insurance claims are very common in Louisiana: For example, more claims were made in Louisiana in 2016 than in the next three states combined.

Louisiana Flood Insurance Coverage

Louisiana residents can purchase flood insurance through the NFIP with coverage limits of up to $250,000 for the structure of their home and $100,000 for its contents. However, NFIP flood insurance also has rules about what is covered. Generally, the structure and anything built into your home is protected. So is any property that's inside your home, though the rules are more complicated for anything in your basement or crawlspace.

Items Covered By Flood Insurance

  • Standard home systems: This includes your home's electrical wiring and plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and gas.
  • Carpeting and installed features: Wall-to-wall carpeting, shelves and built-in bookcases are all covered by flood insurance.
  • Foundation, walls and support structures: The structure of your house is included, as are staircases, so long as they are built into your house.
  • Detached garage: Covered up to 10% of your total policy dwelling coverage
  • Portable appliances and personal property: Appliances, like your oven, refrigerator and washing machine, are generally covered. The same applies to your other belongings. Note that anything in this category is subject to a separate coverage limit.

Damage to your home's structure is paid to replacement cost value (RCV), meaning depreciation is not taken into account, so long as you live in a single-family home and it is your primary residence. Personal property is paid to actual cash value (ACV), meaning depreciation is taken into account. For example, if the walls and furniture were damaged in a room from flooding due to Hurricane Harvey in 2017, you would receive enough money to completely replace walls with new ones; however, you'd only receive enough money to buy furniture that was in the same condition as the pieces you lost.

What's Not Covered by Flood Insurance in Louisiana?

There are some things that aren't covered by flood insurance, however. Your car, precious metals or jewels, and property outside your home like a pool or garden, are not covered. The same goes for anything damaged by moisture, mildew or rot, as well as anything damaged by earth movement (like a sinkhole). Finally, flood insurance does not reimburse you for loss of use, living expenses or loss of business as a result of flooding. For example, if you operated a daycare out of your home, and you evacuated because of the 2016 Louisiana floods, you can claim damage to your property and supplies, but not any money you lost because your home was not hospitable to guests.

Items and expenses not covered:

  • Anything outside your home (swimming pool, landscaping, septic systems)
  • Cars and most other vehicles
  • Currency and precious metals
  • Living expenses or loss of use
  • Loss of business revenue
  • Any personal property in a basement

Causes of damage not covered:

  • Moisture, mildew or mold that could have been avoided
  • Damage caused by earth movement

If you need coverage for any of the above, your best option is likely to be going with a private flood insurance provider.

Cost of Flood Insurance in Louisiana

The average price of NFIP flood insurance in Louisiana is $726 per year, though how much you'll pay will vary significantly based on the location of your home. NFIP flood insurance is calculated using a formula set by FEMA, so any company selling an NFIP flood policy will give you the same price. The most expensive place we surveyed for flood insurance was Denham Springs, with an average price of $1,209 annually. The cheapest location we found was St. Bernard Parish, with an average price of $527 per year.

Prices for Flood Insurance in Louisiana Cities

We collected the average rates for flood insurance for major Louisiana cities and unincorporated areas of flood-prone parishes. Keep in mind that even within a given city or area, prices can vary significantly based on the criteria listed above.

Policies In Force
Average Coverage Amount
Average Annual Premium
Alexandria1,821$240,157$799
Ascension Parish (unincorporated areas)13,813$255,183$642
Baton Rouge37,264$255,472$686
Denham Springs2,169$200,960$1,209
Gonzales1,330$251,106$831
Houma4,729$282,006$583
Jefferson Parish (unincorporated areas)85,670$270,294$685
Lafayette7,866$272,089$608
Lafourche Parish (unincorporated areas)11,306$239,977$619
Lake Charles6,185$272,946$633
Monroe3,226$226,456$758
Morgan City1,650$261,135$886
Show All Rows
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How Are Flood Insurance Rates Set?

The price you'll pay for flood insurance is primarily based on your home's elevation relative to nearby bodies of water, how far it is from the water and any nearby mitigation factors such as levees. These rates also take into account how high the lowest level in your house is. For example, if your house and your neighbor's house are at the same elevation in the Atchafalaya River Basin, but they have a basement and you don't, they will pay more for flood insurance.

And as with other types of insurance, your rates will be affected by the dollar amount of coverage you buy, as well as your deductible: A higher deductible will lead to a lower premium, and vice versa.

Factors That Can Impact Your Flood Insurance Rates:

Location
Other Factors
Elevation above sea or river levelHeight of your lowest floor
Distance from body of waterWhether you have a basement
Flood mitigation tools (e.g. levees)Coverage levels
Deductible
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How to Get Flood Insurance in Louisiana

Buying flood insurance in Louisiana works much like buying any other kind of insurance. You contact a local Louisiana insurance agent, who will help you decide on coverage levels and provide you with a quote. You may need to submit a proof of elevation, a document that certifies how high above water your house is. The main difference between getting flood insurance and other types is that the price is set by the federal government. So while you should always collect multiple quotes for home, renters and auto insurance, you don't need to do so to get NFIP-sponsored flood insurance. Remember that there is almost always a 30-day waiting period for NFIP insurance, so if you're concerned about flooding during Louisiana's summer and fall rainy season, make sure to buy your plan ahead of time.

If you don't qualify for NFIP coverage, or the coverage doesn't meet your needs—such as if you need higher levels of coverage—you may want to purchase coverage from a completely private flood insurer. The process will work in the same way, though if you're buying private flood insurance you should compare rates, as they may differ across insurers. Note that not all mortgage lenders accept private flood insurance. If you are required to buy flood insurance to qualify for your mortgage, check with your lender before you purchase from a private insurer.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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