Flood insurance for renters at a glance:

  • Flood insurance offers two types of coverage: dwelling coverage and contents coverage. As a renter, you do not need to worry about getting dwelling coverage.
  • Standard renters insurance policies do not cover flood damage.
  • You can purchase a separate flood insurance policy.

In this article:

Do I need flood insurance as a renter?

Standard renters insurance policies don't cover damage due to flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers flood insurance coverage for renters, though, which is available through private insurance companies.

We recommend purchasing flood insurance even if you don't live in an area with a high flood risk. The NFIP estimates that more than 40% of flood claims come from flood areas that aren't high risk. You can find out your risk of flood on the FEMA flood map.

What water damage is covered by flood insurance?

NFIP's contents coverage flood insurance policy covers the following items in the event of water damage due to flooding:

  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Washers and dryers
  • Curtains
  • Portable and window air conditioners
  • Microwave ovens
  • Valuables, such as artwork, up to $2,500

Flood insurance includes two types of coverage: dwelling coverage and contents coverage. As a renter, you do not need to worry about getting dwelling coverage. The property owner you rent from deals with that.

NFIP flood policies cover up to $100,000 in contents, but you can choose your coverage amount and deductible.

What isn't covered by flood insurance?

While flood insurance provides excellent coverage, it doesn't cover everything.

The NFIP defines flooding as "excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land or two or more properties." This means that damage due to rain water coming into your rental home due to high winds isn't covered. This would be considered wind damage. NFIP flood insurance policies also won't cover mold if you don't take the necessary steps to prevent the spread and growth of mold.

Flood insurance also does not cover additional living expenses (ALE) if you need to relocate while your rental home is being repaired. However, private flood insurance policies may offer ALE coverage.

Furthermore, currency, precious metals and valuable documents such as stock certificates are excluded from flood insurance coverage.

How to buy renters flood insurance

NFIP flood insurance policies are managed by FEMA. However, you can purchase these policies through your insurance company or by contacting your insurance agent. You can also find out which providers sell NFIP flood policies by using this tool.

It's also important to know there is a 30-day waiting period from when you buy the policy to when it goes into effect. You can't get flood insurance the day before a flood is supposed to hit and get coverage.

Private flood insurance

NFIP flood policies are managed by FEMA, a government agency. You can also purchase private flood insurance, which usually offers higher limits than NFIP policies. Private flood insurance providers may also offer broader coverage than NFIP policies. Private flood insurance policies are priced differently than NFIP policies, because they assess flood zones differently.

How are flood insurance rates determined?

Flood insurance rates are based on a variety of factors. Your flood insurance premium is based on:

  • The location of your rental
  • Elevation (which floor your apartment is on)
  • Risk by flood zone
  • How much coverage you buy

As a renter, one way to decrease your flood insurance premium is by increasing your deductible.

How to submit a flood insurance claim

After a flood, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

We recommend taking pictures of the flood-damaged items. If you have receipts for the damaged items, collect those as well. This is also a good reason to make an inventory list ahead of time. An inventory list makes compiling the damaged items for your insurance company much easier, and may even speed up your claim process.

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