All states have some level of flood risk. Being a coastal state, Virginia is more susceptible than many. While standard homeowners insurance covers many perils, floods aren’t generally one of them. So if you want to protect yourself financially from flood risks, getting flood insurance in Virginia may help. Note that flood insurance is a bit unusual in that it is primarily sold through a government program known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), although it can be purchased through some private insurers.
Do you need flood insurance in Virginia?
Flooding in Virginia may not be as common as in other states like Louisiana and Florida, but flood events do happen. In 2021, storm remnants from Hurricane Ida caused dangerous flash flooding and more than 4.5 inches of rain across parts of Virginia. The flood waters knocked 20 houses off their foundations in Western Virginia and washed away several trailers. And in 2022, Virginia declared a state of emergency due to severe flooding in Buchanan County.
One of the most important reasons to consider flood insurance is that standard home insurance policies don’t usually cover flood damage. If your home is damaged in a flood event, whether it’s accidental or caused by a natural disaster, only a flood insurance policy is likely to help pay to repair your dwelling and replace your personal belongings. The average NFIP claim payout is $19,000 in Virginia. While that is significantly below the $52,000 national average, it’s a cost that many homeowners would not want to pay out of pocket.
In addition, many mortgage lenders will require borrowers to purchase flood insurance if their home is in a high-risk flood area. But even if you do not need to show proof of flood insurance to the bank, you may still want to consider purchasing it for peace of mind.
Cost of flood insurance in Virginia
How much you pay for flood insurance in Virginia depends on several different factors. The average annual cost of a flood policy through the NFIP in the United States is $935, based on the most recent data from 2022.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses a system called Risk Rating 2.0 to assess flood risks and calculate flood insurance costs. Here are some of the factors that impact flood insurance rates in Virginia:
Type and amount of coverage: The NFIP offers two types of coverage: building coverage and contents coverage. For residential homes, the maximum building coverage limit is $250,000 and the maximum contents coverage limit is $100,000. Businesses can purchase commercial flood insurance with up to $500,000 in building and contents coverage.
Flood types and frequency: Under Risk Rating 2.0, NFIP flood insurance premiums are based on the types of floods and frequency of floods in an area. For example, if most flooding is caused by river overflow, you might pay a different rate than a homeowner in an area with a higher risk of coastal erosion or heavy rainfall.
Proximity to a water source: Homes that are closer to water sources (not just the ocean) typically pay higher rates for flood insurance.
Geographic location: If your home is in a high-risk flood zone, you may pay more for flood insurance than if you were in a low-risk zone. To learn if areas near you are flood-prone, use the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.
Your home’s value: As with homeowner’s insurance, the more expensive your home will be to repair, the higher the cost of flood insurance could be.
The elevation of your property: Even if your home is in a high-risk flood zone, if it is significantly elevated, you may see a reduction in premiums.
Whether your home has a basement: Since basements are below ground level, they may be more likely to flood than other areas. As such, homes with basements might be more costly to insure.
There are a few ways to try to lower your flood insurance costs, per FEMA and NFIP experts. Selecting a higher deductible on your policy, securing proof of elevation for your property, elevating your utilities or filling in your basement are a few tactics you may want to consider.
When to purchase flood insurance
Since floods are impossible to predict far in advance, it is best to purchase flood insurance as soon as possible. Do not wait until flooding is in the forecast to look for a policy, as you may not find coverage if flooding is imminent. Plus, NFIP flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect.
For instance, if you purchase coverage on a Tuesday and a heavy rainstorm floods your home on the following Saturday, you would not be able to use your flood insurance benefits. However, if you buy flood insurance through a private insurer, rather than the NFIP, the waiting period might be different.
How to purchase flood insurance in Virginia
Homeowners in Virginia generally have two options to purchase flood insurance. The first is through the NFIP. These government-backed policies are available from dozens of insurance providers in Virginia and offer up to $250,000 in building coverage and $100,000 in contents coverage for residential homes. Building coverage and contents coverage must be purchased separately, but it’s recommended to purchase both.
With an NFIP policy, flood insurance claims for your home’s contents are typically reimbursed on an actual cash value basis, which is less than what it might cost to replace them once depreciation is taken into consideration. Your dwelling is also covered based on its replacement value, which means you can’t get reimbursed for an amount above the policy limit.
The second option is to purchase private flood insurance. Private insurers may offer more policy options than NFIP coverage. You may also be able to find private flood insurance with a waiting period shorter than 30 days, although this is up to the individual insurer.
With any type of flood insurance, the insurance company typically requires the annual premium to be paid for up front and in full. You may not have the option to pay the premium in monthly installments like you might with your home insurance premium. Keep in mind that flood insurance policies need to be renewed each year.
Frequently asked questions
Is flooding covered by homeowners insurance?
Even the best homeowners insurance generally does not cover flood damage. To get coverage for any type of flooding, you will likely need to purchase separate flood insurance, either from the NFIP or from a private insurance company. Keep in mind that flooding caused by things like your sump pump failing would be covered under a separate policy or endorsement altogether.
Is flood insurance more expensive than homeowners insurance?
Both the prices for flood insurance and home insurance take multiple factors into account and are therefore different for every policyholder. If you are in a low-risk area for flooding, your flood insurance premium will likely be lower than if you are in a high-risk area. Additionally, the value of your home and your choice of coverage, among other factors, can play a role in the price of your flood and home insurance.
How can I save money on flood insurance?
To reduce flood insurance costs, the NFIP recommends lowering your home’s flood risk by installing flood openings, filling in your basement or elevating utilities like HVAC and electrical panels. Consider speaking with an insurance professional to learn more about how you can mitigate flood risks and potentially lower your flood insurance premium.
Is flood insurance required in Virginia?
States don’t generally mandate flood insurance, but lenders might. So, flood insurance may be required in Virginia if you financed your home with a mortgage loan. If you own your property outright, though, you likely aren’t required to have flood insurance in Virginia — but it may still be a good idea. Without flood insurance, homeowners are often caught paying out of pocket for damage caused by flooding.
Alice J. Roden started working for Trending Insurance News at the end of 2021. Alice grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. A writer with a vast insurance industry background Alice has help with several of the biggest insurance companies. Before joining Trending Insurance News, Alice briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers home, renters and other property insurance stories.