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Flood insurance: Determining the cost

Requesting flood insurance premium quotes from at least three companies is the best way to determine how much flood insurance will cost for your particular situation. If you receive multiple quotes for a certain price, you should not end up paying more than those quotes. It is possible that the cost of flood insurance could increase from the quoted price, but it should not be a significant increase.

The overall, national average cost of flood insurance is $700, according to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), but according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), premiums for a home in a low-risk flood zone range from $146 to $474. So, you might pay much less – or a lot more – depending on where you live.

If you buy flood insurance from a private company, you'll also see a wide range in cost for flood insurance, depending on location. For instance, a house in Miami Beach in a high-risk zone would cost $18,026 to insure, but that same house in a low-risk zone costs $15,000 less, or $3,700, according to privatemarketflood.com.

Craig Poulton, CEO of Poulton Associates, which administers the Natural Catastrophe Insurance Program (NCIP), one of the country's largest private flood insurance programs, offers this rudimentary estimate for private primary flood insurance policies that would serve in place of an NFIP policy.

“The price range based on actual exposure to flooding in rough terms could be seen as being approximately $.05 per hundred dollars in value for risks that are located in extremely low hazard areas up to risks that would not be accepted at any price by a logical insurer, such as risks which are experiencing flooding virtually every year. Risks, which are located in more highly exposed areas will usually see rates between $.30 per hundred and $.90 per hundred depending on how severe the exposure is,” says Poulton.

Periodically, FEMA issues maps that reveal the risk of flooding in communities across the U.S. Areas that are at greatest risk are designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas.

If your home is located in one of these areas, you likely will pay more for coverage. To look at the latest maps, check out the FEMA website.

Several other factors can impact costs, including:

  • The year your home was built
  • The number of floors in the home
  • The location of the contents
  • The deductible amount and amount of coverage

Buying flood insurance: Who sells it?

The vast majority of flood insurance is sold through the National Flood Insurance Program. A few private insurers also sell this type of coverage. The III also has a list of private insurers who sell flood insurance you can review.

The top 10 companies that sell the most flood insurance are as follows, according to the III:

1. FM Global

2. Assurant

3. Zurich Insurance Group

4. American International Group (AIG)

5. Swiss Re AG

6. Berkshire Hathaway

7. Liberty Mutual

8. Alleghany

9. MAPFRE

10. Allianz

To purchase an NFIP policy, you will need to consult with an insurance agent. You cannot buy such policies directly through the government. If you need a referral to an agent, call NFIP at 888-379-9531.

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