Hurricanes, tropical storms and rising sea levels make Florida one of the country’s most flood-prone states — and you don’t have to live near the beach to be at risk. That’s why you may want to consider buying flood insurance in Florida, regardless of where you live in the state.
For example, Hurricane Ian caused between $40 billion and $64 billion of damage in Florida in 2022, according to an estimate from CoreLogic, an analytics company. Although the Gulf Coast suffered the worst destruction, there was also major flooding in inland areas, where heavy rainfall caused rivers and ponds to overflow.
CoreLogic estimates that between $10 billion and $16 billion of Ian’s total destruction was uninsured flood damage. Without flood insurance, many homeowners and communities had little or no financial support to help them pick up the pieces.
Do you need flood insurance in Florida?
Whether you’re required to buy flood insurance in Florida depends on your insurance company and where you live. If you have a mortgage and your home is in a “special flood hazard area” (SFHA) as designated by the federal government, your lender will likely require you to buy flood insurance.
Even if you don’t live in an SFHA, you may be required to buy flood insurance if you have a homeowners policy from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Citizens is the state-funded insurer of last resort. A recent state law requires anyone with a residential Citizens policy that includes wind coverage to buy flood insurance by the following deadlines:
Which policies are affected
All existing Citizens policyholders living in a special flood hazard area.
Homes with dwelling coverage of $600,000 or more.
Homes with dwelling coverage of $500,000 or more.
Homes with dwelling coverage of $400,000 or more.
This law doesn’t apply to condo owners insured with Citizens; they can choose whether they want to buy flood insurance.
Note that even if flood insurance isn’t required for your property, it might still be smart to have it. More than a third of Florida properties have a 26% or higher chance of severe flooding over the next 30 years, according to Risk Factor, a climate modeling tool from the nonprofit First Street Foundation. You can check your property’s risk at RiskFactor.com.
How much is flood insurance in Florida?
The average cost of flood insurance in Florida is $677 per year for a policy from the federally funded National Flood Insurance Program. The NFIP is Florida’s largest flood insurance provider. Your flood insurance rate will depend on factors such as your home’s elevation and proximity to water sources.
Cost of Florida flood insurance by county
Below is a breakdown of average flood insurance cost by county. These rates show only the cost of NFIP policies, including commercial properties, and don’t include private flood insurance rates.
Cost of Florida flood insurance by city
Below is the average cost of flood insurance in some of Florida’s largest cities. This data is for all NFIP policies, including commercial policies, and does not reflect the average rates for private flood insurance.
How Florida flood insurance rates could rise
Many Florida policyholders will pay more for flood insurance under the NFIP’s new rating system, Risk Rating 2.0. FEMA began rolling out the new rates in 2021 with the goal of making premiums more accurately reflect each property’s flood risk.
About 20% of Florida policyholders saw their flood insurance rates go down under the new rating method, but most others are paying the same or more.
Under federal law, your flood insurance rate typically can’t go up more than 18% in a given year. So for high-risk properties that are underpriced, it may take several years of 18% increases to reach what FEMA considers to be the true risk-based premium.
To illustrate this, FEMA recently released data showing the difference between current flood insurance premiums and projected rates under Risk Rating 2.0.
According to this data, Floridians who have NFIP insurance for a single-family home are now paying an average of $958 per year under Risk Rating 2.0. However, the rate that reflects the true flood risk of those properties under the new rating system would be $2,213 per year. So this average policyholder could expect their rate to go up 18% each year until they’ve reached the full risk-based premium.
In the table below, you can see how much flood insurance policyholders were paying in each Florida county as of Sept. 30, 2022, when the data was collected. Next to that rate in the table is the amount they’d be paying if their rates were based on their property’s actual flood risk under Risk Rating 2.0. The percentage difference is how much more the average policyholder in that county can expect to pay over time.
Note: The current average rates below are different from the ones in the table above because this data shows only single-family residential policies that were renewed under Risk Rating 2.0 by Sept. 30, 2022. The table above includes all NFIP policies.
What does Florida flood insurance cover?
Flood insurance covers damage to your home from scenarios such as storm surge, overflowing bodies of water and surface runoff from heavy rain. Homeowners insurance generally provides no coverage for these events.
The NFIP defines flooding as “an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties.” This limited definition means flood insurance won’t cover every type of water damage.
For example, if a pipe bursts or your dishwasher sends soapy water gushing across your kitchen, a flood insurance policy wouldn’t cover the resulting damage (but your homeowners policy likely would).
An NFIP policy covers the structure of your home up to $250,000 and your belongings up to $100,000. You may be able to get higher coverage limits from private flood insurance companies.
NFIP policies have quite a few limitations. For instance, they won’t cover most items in basements or pay for you to live elsewhere if your home is uninhabitable after a flood.
How to get flood insurance in Florida
To buy flood insurance, you can contact an independent agent or reach out to your current homeowners insurance company. Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose between NFIP coverage and private flood insurance, which often offers more generous coverage.
The NFIP maintains a list of companies that sell its policies, including well-known insurers like Allstate, Farmers and Liberty Mutual. If you’re looking for private options, see this page from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
Note that most flood insurance coverage comes with a waiting period between when you buy the policy and when it’s effective. NFIP policies often don’t go into effect for 30 days, while private companies may have shorter waiting periods. Either way, you typically can’t buy flood insurance the day before a hurricane hits and have immediate coverage.
How to save money on Florida flood insurance
Between flood insurance and the increasing cost of Florida homeowners insurance, having a home in Florida can get expensive. Here are a few ways to save.
Shop around. Private flood insurance companies may offer lower rates than the NFIP. An independent insurance agent can help you find them.
Protect your home from flooding. The NFIP may lower your flood insurance premium if you take steps to reduce your flood risk, such as:
Putting water heaters, heating and air conditioning systems and other utilities on elevated platforms.
Filling in your basement.
Note that these projects can be expensive, so you may want to chat with an agent about what kind of savings you can expect before making the investment.
Choose a higher deductible. A deductible is the amount of a flood claim you’re responsible for. If you’re willing to pay more for repairs, you’ll pay less in annual flood insurance premiums.
Note that the NFIP sells policies for the structure of your home separately from policies that cover your belongings. So if a flood damages your house and your stuff, you could end up paying two separate deductibles. Before raising your deductibles, make sure you’ll have enough money on hand to cover the higher amount.
Get an elevation certificate. An elevation certificate is a document that lists the elevation of your home’s lowest floor plus other details about the structure that may affect its flood risk. Submitting a certificate to your insurance agent could help prove your eligibility for a lower rate.
Check with your local floodplain manager to see whether there’s already an EC on file for your home. If not, you can hire an engineer, land surveyor or architect to complete one for you.
Do renters need flood insurance in Florida?
Is flood insurance mandatory in Florida?
How does flood insurance work in Florida?