Do you need special flood and sewer insurance? Here’s how to tell.

Placeholder while article actions load

Extreme weather conditions, including more intense rain and storms, have left too many homes vulnerable to damage.

Many homeowners unfortunately discover too late that they lack adequate insurance to repair and replace their homes and possessions. We asked two experts for advice on flood insurance and sewer back-up coverage that offers protection against water damage in homes: Jared Sinclair, managing director at Goosehead Insurance in Houston; and Adam Kornick, president of Irving, Tex.-based Insurtech at Porch.com, a home services platform. Both responded via email, and their responses were edited.

How can you determine if you should buy flood insurance? Does this just depend on FEMA maps or are there other circumstances when it makes sense to buy flood insurance?

Kornick: If you have a mortgage, your lender will generally require flood insurance as a condition of your mortgage in certain flood zones as designated by FEMA. These are areas judged to be at higher risk of flooding. However, even homes that are in lower risk areas may flood. FEMA reported in 2019 that more than 25 percent of claims come from outside of high-risk areas. It’s worth getting a quote from both the federally sponsored National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and one of several private flood insurers that are regulated by your state Department of Insurance. Your independent agent may help navigate the process and select the right coverage for your situation.

Sinclair: Flood insurance protects you against rising water from outside of your home and, regardless of the location of your home, you should strongly consider buying it. When just one inch of water can cost more than $ 25,000 in damage, flood insurance can be the difference between recovery and financial devastation.

How much does flood insurance typically cost?

Kornick: Flood insurance can vary widely because it’s a function of the level of risk and the value of the assets being insured. The best way to find out for a particular home is to get a quote from a licensed insurance agent or online through an insurance agency. Porch’s analysis of flood insurance policies in 2021 found that FEMA changes will raise flood insurance premiums for the 3.3 million homeowners who have it. In 2021, the average annual premium for the NFIP insurance was $ 734.

Sinclair: The price can vary greatly and depends on a few different factors – location, construction style, coverage limits and deductibles just to name a few. When you look to get a quote, it’s important to know that you have options. Coverage is offered through the NFIP, but private insurers offer flood insurance as well. You’ll want to work with an agent who can shop the market to find you the best combination of coverage and premium.

How do homeowners know when they need sewer back-up coverage? Is it a separate policy? Or is an endorsement or rider on your regular policy?

Sinclair: While water damage that originates inside of your home is typically covered by home insurance, sewer backup is not. You’ll need to endorse the coverage to have protection. The coverage limit can vary, but it’s a relatively inexpensive endorsement that everyone should consider, especially if they have a basement.

Kornick: Most homeowners may purchase sewer back-up coverage as an endorsement to their existing homeowner’s policy. This endorsement varies by carrier, but generally covers when water enters your home through sewer lines, a sump pump or something else that is neither a flood nor the escape of water from inside your home. Many insurers cover a fixed amount, often around $ 10,000, as part of the endorsement and that limit is often different from the coverage available for other types of claims.

How much does sewer back-up coverage cost?

Kornick: At Homeowners of America, Porch Group’s wholly owned insurance subsidiary, the average cost consumers pay may be between $ 30 and $ 40 annually, but prices are highly customized and based on other factors such as Zip code, so it’s worth speaking to your agent to find out your options.

Any steps homeowners can take to reduce the cost of either of these policies or to get a discount?

Kornick: Almost every insurance carrier offers discounts or otherwise lowers costs for homeowners that lower their risk. Some of the ways you can do this are to maintain your home and its systems, to make your payments on time and to avoid filing unnecessary claims. You may also consider raising your deductible or lowering the limits of your coverage if it’s appropriate. This is a great conversation to have with your insurance agent or insurance carrier.

Sinclair: The best way to save is to know that you have options. Look to get a quote through the NFIP, but be sure to ask your agent about private flood insurance options as well. Having an agent with options allows them to find the best carrier for your scenario, tailoring the coverage limits and deductibles to meet your needs without having to sacrifice quality for price.

Sinclair: If you’re interested in flood insurance, it’s important that you buy it sooner rather than later. The NFIP has a 30-day waiting period in effect to prevent homeowners from purchasing a policy at the last minute when a flood is imminent. Private insurers have similar policies in place, but the waiting period could be shorter.

Leave a Comment