Flood insurance in Massachusetts
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Flood insurance in Massachusetts

May 25, 2023
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Massachusetts is famous for its coastlines, including the famous Boston Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. But all these coastlines carry a risk: flooding. Flood damage can be devastating, and floods are not covered by standard home insurance policies. Typically, homeowners must take out a separate flood insurance policy to obtain coverage. Because it is important for homeowners to know their options, Empire Finance Pro explains flood insurance in Massachusetts and how a sufficient policy can save you from the devastating financial consequences of flood damage.

Do homeowners need flood insurance in Massachusetts?

Flood insurance is not required by law. However, Massachusetts has a history of flooding. According to the state government, more than 400,000 residents live in a 100-year flood zone and have a more than 25 percent chance that their home will flood at some point. Although living in a flood-prone area is a good indicator of risk, it is important to note that, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 20 percent of flood claims come from homes located outside of high-risk flood zones.

Many homeowners turn to flood insurance to mitigate flood damage. Such a policy does not reduce a home's flood risk, but it can help cover repair and replacement costs. In 2022, flood insurance payments in Massachusetts exceeded $1 million.

If you are considering flood insurance, or even if you already have a policy, it is important to understand what it covers and what it does not cover.

What flood insurance covers

In general, flood insurance covers flood damage to the following items

  • electrical and plumbing systems
  • certain household appliances
  • permanently installed carpets, panels, cabinets and bookcases
  • the structure of the house, including drywall, stairs and foundations
  • detached garages
  • personal property (if this coverage is taken out).

What flood insurance does not cover

A flood insurance policy does not cover everything. Here are some examples of what flood insurance does not cover:

  • Temporary living expenses if your home is uninhabitable due to flooding.
  • Property outside the covered building.
  • Money, precious metals and other forms of currency
  • vehicles
  • Contents stored in a basement.

Cost of flood insurance in Massachusetts.

The cost of flood insurance generally depends on various rating factors, such as the location of your home, but FEMA indicates that the average rate is $700 per year. To determine the flood zone in which your home or property is located, you can enter your address on FEMA's flood map. The higher the flood risk in your area, the more you will have to pay for an insurance policy.

In high-risk areas, flood insurance can be very expensive and exceed the cost of home insurance. The insurer will take the following factors into account when determining your premium:

  • the structure of the house
  • the age of the house
  • the location of the house's utilities
  • the amount of coverage
  • the amount of the deductible

The building portion of a flood insurance policy covers foundations, electrical, plumbing, finishes, appliances, electronics, permanent carpets, boilers, water heaters, permanent closets, and more. The contents section of the policy covers personal effects, microwave ovens, carpets, washers, dryers, artwork, other valuables, etc. Standard policies have coverage limits of $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for the contents of the home.

You can reduce the cost of flood insurance by applying some strategies. FEMA and NFIP suggest obtaining an elevation certificate, installing flood vents, filling basements, or moving to reduce the potential impact of flood damage.

When is flood insurance required?

Massachusetts home insurance laws do not require you to purchase flood insurance. However, if you have a mortgage, your lender may require it if your home is in a low-lying area near water and at special risk of flooding.

Experts recommend taking out flood insurance as soon as you buy a house in a flood-prone area. If you are concerned about an impending storm and do not have flood insurance, you can still take it out, but keep in mind that there is usually a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect.

Fortunately, there are exceptions where you do not have to wait the full 30 days.

  • If you purchase flood insurance because the flood map for your area has changed and indicates that your home is at risk, you have 13 months to purchase flood insurance without a 30-day waiting period to file a claim. The waiting period is only one day.
  • If you have recently purchased, renewed, increased or extended a mortgage, you can purchase flood insurance without a 30-day waiting period.

How do I purchase flood insurance in Massachusetts?

The easiest way to buy flood insurance is to call your insurer and talk to an agent. Some private insurers offer NFIP policies; others may offer their own flood insurance. You can also call the NFIP service center at (800) 427-4661.

Currently, the NFIP does not offer additional coverage for living expenses or loss of use with its policies. In other words, if you purchase an NFIP policy and the flood damages your home, you will have to pay out of pocket for living expenses. However, FEMA can provide disaster housing in certain situations.

Frequently asked questions.

Do tenants need flood insurance?

Tenants may need flood insurance. Tenants can take out flood insurance for contents only, which will protect them from high costs if their property is damaged by a flood. Owners must take out flood insurance for the building itself. Although landlords often require tenants' insurance to cover their liability, it is your responsibility to insure your property. It is unlikely that a landlord will require flood insurance for a tenant, but it might be a good idea to take it out.

Is flood insurance mandatory in Massachusetts?

Flood insurance is not required by law, but some situations may require it. For example, lenders may require homeowners with a mortgage to purchase flood insurance if their home is located in a flood zone. Although flood insurance is not mandatory, it can be a wise investment. Although flood zones can be a good indicator of risk, a significant percentage of claims are filed on homes outside of high flood risk areas.

How much does flood insurance cost in Massachusetts?

It is difficult to give a precise answer about the cost of flood insurance in Massachusetts. The exact price depends on several variables, such as your home's flood risk, building materials, age, and the deductible of your insurance policy. The national average cost of NFIP flood insurance is $700 per year.

Jessica Parker
Written by
Jessica Parker
Loans, Mortgage, Insurance
Jessica Parker is a senior content creator with years of copywriting experience. She joined Empire Finance Pro in 2018. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and her work has appeared in a number of top-tier finance publications including Forbes, FinancialTimes and Bloomberg.