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I have just moved to Panama City Beach, Fla., a high-risk flood zone. I'm researching renters insurance, and some agents tell me I need separate flood insurance, and some say flood insurance is only for the homeowner. I have over $100,000 in personal property. What should I do?

You're wise to think about flood insurance as a renter. Floods are not covered by standard renters or home insurance. You must buy a separate flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The program works with about 90 private insurance companies to offer flood insurance to commercial and residential property owners and renters. A community must join the NIFP and agree to enforce floodplain management standards for its residents to qualify for coverage.

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Flood insurance for renters

Renters can buy contents-only flood insurance coverage. Beware that there is a $100,000 cap on coverage for renters' contents. Log onto the National Flood Insurance Program website for details and use its agent locator tool to find a local agent who sells flood insurance.

Because you live in a high-risk zone, your only option is a standard rated policy, versus a preferred rate, which is reserved for people living in moderate-to-low risk areas. The preferred premium for residential contents-only coverage is as low as $49 per year, according to the NFIP.

To get a ballpark idea of how much your premium would be, the NFIP site provides a One-Step Flood Risk Profile tool that estimates your risk and costs.

Your flood insurance premium will be based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Year the apartment building, condo or rental home was built
  • Occupancy
  • Number of floors
  • Location of contents
  • Risk level of your flood zone
  • Location of the lowest floor in relation to the elevation requirement on the flood map (only newer buildings)
  • Amount of coverage and deductible you choose

For more, see Who needs flood insurance?

Last updated: Jul. 28, 2011
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