The average cost of flood insurance in California is $820 a year. If you live in one of California's high-risk flood zones, you can expect higher premiums from either the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or private insurers.
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Cost of flood insurance in California
The average cost of flood insurance in California through the NFIP is $820 a year, or $68 a month. This is $54 a year lower than the national average. The NFIP is managed by FEMA, which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The table below shows rates for NFIP flood insurance policies by flood zone.
- Areas in California with a 1% chance of flooding are classified as high risk. A Special Flood Hazard Area, which is a high-risk flood zone, is usually designated by the letters A or V.
- Zone X (shaded) is a moderate-risk area, while Zone X (unshaded) is a minimal-risk area.
- Zone D indicates areas where there are possible but undetermined flood risks.
|Flood zone||Average annual rate|
|All A zones||$844|
|Source: National Flood Insurance Program|
Zone X, which is a moderate- to low-risk area, has the lowest average premium at $644 a year. Depending on different factors you could be paying more or less for flood insurance than the state average. These factors include:
- The home's construction type
- How close you are to water
- The elevation of the house
Do I need flood insurance in California?
Every county in California has had a flood disaster declared more than once in the history of the state. The Central Valley frequently floods due to river overflow. There's also a high chance of flooding along the coast of California when high tides and large storms or tsunamis occur. In 2011, the 9.0 earthquake in the Tohoku region of Japan created tsunami currents that did over $100 million in damage to 27 harbors along California's coastline.
According to Risk Factor, about 150,000 properties in California are at risk of flooding over the next 30 years due to rising seas. The best way to see what kind of flood risk your home is at is to check the FEMA flood map online for California.
Flood insurance requirements in California
California's state government does not require homeowners to have a flood insurance policy. However, depending on the type of flood zone your home is in, your mortgage lender might. You can be required by the government to purchase flood insurance if you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and you have a federally backed mortgage. If you don't live in a SFHA zone, your mortgage lender may still require you to purchase flood insurance.
Where to get NFIP flood insurance policies in California
When buying flood insurance, you can contact your home or auto insurance company and check to see if they write and service NFIP flood policies. Here's a list of some insurance providers that write NFIP flood insurance policies:
- Liberty Mutual
For a complete list of writers of NFIP policies in California, see NFIP's flood insurance company list.
Flood insurance coverage for NFIP policies
Flood insurance protects your home's structure and your belongings from damage resulting from a declared flood. NFIP flood insurance policies offer up to $250,000 in building property coverage and up to $100,000 in contents coverage.
NFIP flood insurance will cover your dwelling structure at replacement cost or actual cash value, while your belongings are covered at actual cash value. Replacement cost means that damages to your home will be repaired up to policy limits without depreciation being a factor. Actual cash value means your possessions will be replaced based on what they're worth after depreciation.
In order for your home to qualify for replacement cost coverage, the following criteria needs to be met:
- The house is a single-family home.
- You live in the house at least 80% of the year.
- Your flood insurance dwelling coverage meets at least 80% of the replacement cost of your home, or the max amount available for the home under NFIP limits.
If your home does not meet these three criteria, your flood insurance will pay out dwelling claims at actual cash value.
Basement coverage for NFIP policies
NFIP flood insurance can cover your basement, but both dwelling and contents coverage for basements under a flood insurance policy are minimal. The following items are covered:
- Furnaces, central air conditioners and heat pumps
- Electrical outlets and switches
- Well water tanks and pumps
- Stairways and staircases that are attached to your home
- Drywall that is unfinished and untaped for walls and ceilings
- Post-flood cleanup
Private flood insurance coverages
Private flood insurance companies can offer more coverage than the NFIP. Some private companies also offer a lower rate than the NFIP.
|Coverage||NFIP||Private flood insurance|
|Building/dwelling||Up to $250,000||Varies by company, but can match your home insurance policy's dwelling coverage limit|
|Contents/personal property||Up to $100,000||Varies by company, but can match your home insurance policy's personal property limit|
|Loss of use||Not available||Varies by company, but can match your home insurance policy's loss of use limit|
How to save on flood insurance in California
Although California has an average flood premium that is higher than the national average, you can still take several steps to lower your premium.
- Increase your deductible. Your premium and deductible have an inverse relationship. If you choose a high deductible, your premium will be lower.
- Provide an Elevation Certificate. An Elevation Certificate provides information on the location of your home, the lowest floor elevation, your home's building characteristics and its flood zone. You can submit the certificate to your insurance agent to find out if you can lower your premium.
- Install flood openings and fill in the basement. You can lower your premium if you install flood openings on the walls of your basement.
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