Wondering About the Average Cost of Insurance?

As flood experts, everyone asks us “how much should flood insurance cost?”

The Flood Nerds™ at Better Flood think you should pay as little as possible for good coverage.

But calculating the cost of flood insurance isn’t easy. Two identical homes with identical contents can have two different premiums. That’s because flood insurance costs vary depending on the structure’s location. 

It also depends on where you buy your flood insurance. To calculate flood insurance costs you need to understand the flood insurance rate map. Or, you can let a Flood Nerd shop for your flood insurance with our numerous private flood insurers and then compare it to the cost with the NFIP.

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FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps Versus Real Risk

The flood insurance rate map was created during the federal government’s 50-year monopoly on the flood insurance market. During that time, Washington was the only source of flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

In true bureaucrat fashion, they divided the US into two categories:  

  • Low to moderate-risk flood zones 

  • High-risk flood zones

Then they took each group and assigned flood zone rate maps. Now here’s where it gets crazy. As every Flood Nerd learns in insurance 101, insurance premiums are supposed to be based on the actual risk. Heck, that’s what insurance is…the transfer of the risk of loss. 

But the government used these maps as gospel and the basis of the premium.  With the NFIP, your flood insurance premium is calculated on your flood zone, rather than the actual risk to your structure. 

Then to make things even more confusing, they heavily subsidized some policies and others they charged skyhigh premiums. Either way, people didn’t pay the right amount.

But the private insurance market doesn’t look at that. They evaluate the real risk and then calculate flood insurance cost. 

How is Flood Insurance Cost Calculated?

In addition to the flood zone map, the amount of coverage purchased ($50,000 – $250,000 for residential or $100,000 – $500,000 for commercial) is a factor.  Limits for RCBAP and condo flood policies are different. Then there is the design of the structure, the age of the structure, and whether it is elevated or if the foundation is subgrade. 

Most of the NFIP policies base their flood insurance cost calculator on the foundation depth in relation to the Base flood elevation. Anything -4 will pay a higher premium. 

The private flood insurance market uses an entirely different flood insurance cost calculator. They combine high tech data analytics with advanced mapping using satellites and aircraft LADAR. The private flood insurers rely on the most accurate digital land surveys available. They also use heavy-hitting risk modeling to calculate every imaginable scenario to gauge the probability of a structure having a flood loss.  Better information means they know the real cost of flood insurance. Most property owners save money with private flood insurance.

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Why Is an Elevation Certificate Important to Flood Insurance Cost Calculation?

An Elevation Certificate is only important if you are buying flood insurance through the NFIP. 

The federal government finally saw a flaw in their one size fits all flood insurance calculation. It dawned on them that for some flood zone maps, there were certain details unique to the property that could impact the premiums. 

So, they created the Elevation Certificate!

This is a government form that must be filled out by a surveyor that you pay to come out to the property and measure the elevation. 

Elevation Certificates have just a few problems. 

#1 They are only used by the NFIP.

#2 80% of the time they aren’t filled out correctly (that’s why private insurers ignore them).

#3 They cost homeowners $600+ just to get the form filled out.

If you are buying a house and are required to buy flood insurance, ask the Seller for their Elevation Certificate. If they don’t have one, ask them to either pay for one or credit you for buying one. 

But, if you buy private flood insurance you won’t need an Elevation Certificate. 

It may be the only way to save money with an NFIP policy.

Flood nerd explains how an Elevation Certificate can effect your NFIP premium

Why Should I Buy Flood Insurance?

If your house has a mortgage backed by the federal government and you are in one of the designated flood insurance zones, you MUST buy flood insurance. The lender gives you no choice.

Just because you are forced into buying flood insurance doesn’t mean you are forced to buy the NFIP policy. There’s a good chance that you save money on the private insurance market. There are over 40 private insurers, including the Lloyds of London syndicate. If it sounds complicated, it is. But the Flood Nerds are flood insurance experts. We know how to get you a great rate and coverage no matter where you live.

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But if you don’t have a mortgage or even if you think you have little risk of loss from flooding you should seriously consider buying flood insurance.

Not So Trivial Flood Information

  • Anywhere it rains it can flood. The majority of flooding from recent storms has been in what were considered low-risk flood areas.

  • 90% of properties in Houston flooded by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 were in “low-risk” flood zones.

  • The average damage from one inch of water in your home is $50,000.  

  • The major reason homes are abandoned or foreclosed upon after a flood is lack of flood insurance coverage. 

  • Flooding is the most common and most destructive natural disaster in the United States.

  • Every single state has experienced flooding within the last five years


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