Flood insurance in Massachusetts

Flood insurance is not the same as homeowners insurance. It is frequently obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) of the federal government, although additional private choices have recently become available.

For many Massachusetts residents, flood insurance is simply a part of life, as the state is flooded year after year. If you live in the state or want to move there, knowing how to obtain flood insurance, how much it costs, and how to submit a claim if and when Mother Nature strikes is a good idea.

The average annual flood insurance premium in Massachusetts is $1,294 per year. This figure represents all active federally funded flood insurance policies in Massachusetts.

If your house is located in one of the special flood hazard areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood mapping system, then your mortgage lender may require you to purchase flood insurance coverage.

Average cost of flood insurance in Massachusetts

Bay Staters with flood insurance pay an average of $1,294 per year for about $260,000 in coverage. However, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rates are based on whether your property is in a high-risk flood zone as defined by FEMA. This means that your NFIP flood insurance quote could be much higher or lower than the state’s overall average.

Flood insurance rates in Massachusetts are determined by what flood zone your home or property is in, which you can easily determine by inputting your address into FEMA’s flood map. For example, Boston has three different flood zones that insurers look at to assess flood risk.

Additionally, your provider will also consider the following when determining your premium:

  • Design of your home
  • Age of your home
  • Location of your home’s utilities
  • Coverage amount
  • Deductible amount

It’s possible to lower your flood insurance costs by getting an elevation certificate, which verifies that your home’s elevation is above the average height of floodwaters for your area.

Take the gap in typical flood insurance prices between Boston and Brockton, for example. The average coverage amount in both cities is close to $275,000. Bostonians, on the other hand, pay less than half of what Brockton residents do on a yearly basis.

This is because insurance companies calculate a larger probability of flood damage in Brockton than in Boston. The table below shows the cost and coverage limits of flood insurance in major Massachusetts cities.

CityPolicies in forceAverage coverage amountAverage premium
New Bedford280$322,835$1,436
Fall River92$313,011$2,297

Note that these numbers apply to NFIP-sponsored flood insurance. Federal law regulates the cost of flood insurance that’s backed by the NFIP, which means you’ll see the same rates regardless of which insurer or agent is providing the quote.

If you aren’t satisfied with the cost of NFIP insurance or happen not to qualify for federally backed coverage, you’ll have to look for a private insurer that sponsors its own flood policies.

When is flood insurance required in Massachusetts?

Although flood insurance is not required by Massachusetts law, mortgage lenders frequently purchase it to reduce their own risk.

If your property is located within a specific flood hazard area (SFHA) as defined by FEMA’s flood insurance rate map for your neighborhood, flood insurance may become a mortgage borrower’s required coverage. Because of their low elevation or proximity to open water, SFHAs are more vulnerable to flood.

Flood insurance is not legally required by Massachusetts homeowners insurance legislation. If you have a mortgage, though, your lender may need it if your house is in a special flood hazard area (SFHA), which is a low-elevation location near the water.

It’s typically best to purchase flood insurance as soon as you buy a home in a flood zone. If you’re nervous about a coming storm and don’t have flood insurance, you can certainly purchase flood insurance, but there is a 30-day waiting period before you can file a claim.

Fortunately, there are exceptions where you don’t have to wait the full 30 days.

  • If you’re buying flood insurance because the flood map in your region has changed and your home is now at risk, you have 13 months to do so without having to wait 30 days to file a claim. There is simply a one-day waiting time if you do this.
  • If you have just purchased, renewed, raised, or extended a home loan, you are not required to wait 30 days to get flood insurance.

FEMA updates its rate maps as new data becomes available on a rolling basis, so even existing homeowners are sometimes placed into new SFHAs and required to buy flood insurance for the first time.

If you believe that your property doesn’t belong in a newly created SFHA, you and your mortgage lender can jointly file a letter of determination review (LODR) with FEMA. The agency will take up to 45 days to decide whether your home has been zoned correctly.

Even if FEMA revises its zoning at your request, your mortgage lender may still exercise its right to require flood insurance as a condition of your loan.

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. You can also call the NFIP Help Center at (800) 427-4661. An agent will get you a quote and can answer any additional questions you may have.

Currently, most homeowners purchase flood insurance through the federal government’s NFIP program, but there may be other options, such as private flood insurance.

NFIP does not currently offer additional living expenses coverage or loss-of-use coverage with their policies. 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.

Flood insurance companies in Massachusetts

There are two types of flood insurance available from insurance companies. They mostly work as NFIP participants, which means they sell and service federal flood insurance but don’t set rates, profit from premiums, or pay claims with their own funds.

Private insurers are less likely to sponsor and sell their own flood insurance plans. Private plans can sometimes be less expensive than NFIP policies, especially if you have unique circumstances, such as having recently re-zoned.

Most insurance firms and agents can assist you in obtaining an NFIP flood insurance policy, but private flood insurance may be more difficult to come by. Surplus line insurance firms, which provide specialty coverage in addition to standard house insurance, are a good place to start.

  • AIX Specialty Insurance
  • Coverys Specialty Insurance
  • Ironshore Specialty Insurance
  • Lexington Insurance
  • Liberty Surplus Insurance

Why Massachusetts homeowners might want flood insurance

Massachusetts has a history of flooding both in the distant and recent past. FEMA reports that most of Massachusetts has been impacted by floodwater every year for the past 23 years.

Flood events are such a common occurrence in the state that it’s not unusual for Massachusetts to have well over 50 incidents (in 2018, the state had well over 80).

As you might expect, the cost impact has been quite severe for both insurance companies and homeowners. The NFIP paid an average of $52,000 to homeowners in 2019 with homes damaged by floodwaters.

How to file a NFIP flood insurance claim

It’s a good idea to check with your provider to learn more about their claims process when purchasing your policy. Typically, however, these are the steps you will likely be asked to follow.

If your home is damaged by flooding, immediately call your insurance provider and speak with an agent. An insurance adjuster will visit your home and assess how much damage has been done by floodwaters shortly after.

If you can, take pictures of any areas damaged by floodwaters if it is safe to do so. If possible, try to get shots that show how high the water rose, and be sure to take pictures of the inside of your home, too.

To expedite the process, separate damaged items from undamaged items— making sure to protect your belongings from further damage if you can.

While the adjuster is there, you may request an advance or partial payment for your losses.

Frequently asked questions

How much is flood insurance in MA

The average amount Massachusetts’ homeowners pay for flood insurance is $1,291 a year, making it the fifth most expensive state for flood insurance (the national average is around $700). According to our data, the top four most expensive states are:

  1. Vermont: $1,569
  2. Connecticut: $1,475
  3. Rhode Island: $1,424
  4. Pennsylvania: $1,316

Do renters need flood insurance?

If you’re a renter, you should not need a standard flood insurance policy because you are not insuring your home’s structure (that task falls to your landlord).

You might, however, want to purchase what is known as renters flood insurance to protect your belongings. If you don’t, you will have to pay out of pocket to replace your damaged items if floodwaters damage them.

A standard renter’s insurance policy usually doesn’t cover damage to your belongings resulting from flood damage. Still, it typically protects you from water damage resulting from a burst pipe, which is why there is sometimes some confusion. Speak with your renter’s insurance carrier to determine exactly what your policy covers.

What does flood insurance not cover?

Flood insurance does not usually cover the following:

  • Your car
  • Any property or belongings not inside of an insured home
  • Currency, stock certificates, precious metals, etc.
  • Loss of use
  • Additional living expenses
  • Preventable mold, mildew, or moisture damage.
  • Earth movement resulting from flood

What are the most common causes of flooding?

Several things can cause flooding. They are:

  • Heavy, consistent rainfall
  • Melting snow
  • Blocked drainage systems
  • Offshore storms
  • Ice jams

In Massachusetts, many floods are attributed to the Connecticut, Merrimack, and Nashua Rivers becoming overburdened with rainwater.

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