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Massachusetts flood insurance

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, and flooding is not covered by standard home insurance policies. Homeowners typically have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to obtain coverage. Because it’s important for homeowners to know their options, 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, though. 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 of currency

  • Vehicles

  • 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:

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 may require it if your home is in a special flood hazard area close to the water and low in elevation.

Experts recommend purchasing flood insurance as soon as you buy a home in a flood zone. If you’re nervous about an upcoming storm and don’t have flood insurance, you may still be able to purchase it, 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. There is only a one-day wait period instead.

  • 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 offer NFIP policies; others may offer their own flood insurance. You can also call the NFIP Help Center at (800) 427-4661.

NFIP does not currently offer additional living expenses coverage or loss-of-use coverage with their policies. That means, 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. However, FEMA may provide disaster housing in some situations.

Frequently asked questions

    • Renters might need flood insurance. Renters can buy contents-only flood coverage, which would help protect them from high out-of-pocket costs if their belongings were damaged in a flood. Landlords would bear the burden of carrying a flood insurance policy for the building itself. While landlords often require you to have a renters insurance policy to provide liability coverage, insuring your belongings is up to you. It’s not likely that a landlord would require flood insurance for a renter, but it could still be a smart purchase.

    • Purchasing flood insurance isn’t mandated by law; however, some situations may still require it. For instance, lenders may require homeowners with mortgages to maintain flood coverage if their homes are situated in flood zones. Even when flood insurance isn’t required, it might be a wise investment. While flood zones can be a good indicator of risk, a significant percentage of flood claims come from homes that are situated outside of high flood-risk areas.

    • It’s hard to give a precise answer about how much flood insurance costs in Massachusetts. The exact price will depend on several variables like your home’s flood risk, building materials and age and your policy’s deductible, among other things. The national average cost for NFIP flood insurance is $700 per year.

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