How to Determine If You Need Flood Insurance for Your Property

Floods are the most common natural disasters and can affect all regions. Having the right insurance can protect you from financial loss.

If your property is in a high-risk flood zone, you must purchase flood insurance from your mortgage lender. But does it make sense for you?


When it comes to flood insurance in Tennessee, the location of your property can make a big difference. If you live in a high-risk area or a community that has been flooded in the past, your mortgage lender may require you to purchase flood insurance as part of the terms of your loan.

However, floods can happen anywhere, and even homes outside the high-risk zone can experience serious flooding. That’s why it’s important to talk to your local insurance agent or community officials about the risks and check out FEMA’s maps (also known as FIRMs).

These maps show the areas at risk for flooding and indicate the types of protections you can get through the National Flood Insurance Program. You can find your FIRMs by searching for your address at the online Map Service Center.

Your policy costs can also vary depending on the location of your home, how close it is to a body of water, and its elevation. Your agent can help you understand the details of your FIRM and explain how these will affect your rates. Using FEMA’s estimator, you can also find out how much it might cost to rebuild your home. If you have an elevation certificate, you can provide it to your insurance agent; this will often allow you to qualify for a lower rate on your NFIP policy.


Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover flood damages, so getting this coverage is essential. Mortgage lenders require that anyone purchasing a home in high-risk flood zones obtain this policy to protect their investment. Anyone who receives federal disaster assistance also may be required to purchase this type of policy.

Before buying a property, check your local FEMA flood zone maps to see the likelihood of flooding in that area. But remember, those maps could be decades old and may not account for rising sea levels or other factors that might impact the risk of floods in the future.

A standard NFIP flood insurance policy covers the direct physical damage caused by flooding to buildings and their contents, such as foundation walls, staircases, and anchorage systems. However, it does not cover sewer backups unless they result from flooding from an overflow of inland or tidal waters, rapid accumulation of surface runoff, snow melt, or mudflow.

For this reason, if you are considering buying a property in a high-risk flood zone, mitigating the risks might be worth the investment by elevating your structure above its base flood elevation. You can take steps to get your community designated as a low-risk zone and qualify for a lower NFIP rate.


A home’s location is the most important factor in flood insurance. However, even if you live outside of a high-risk area, it’s still a good idea to look into getting coverage, as flood damage can be extremely costly.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers affordable protection to protect property owners against the financial consequences of flooding. It is available to homeowners, renters and business owners in communities participating in the NFIP. Anyone with a mortgage that the federal government backs must have flood insurance, as do people living in designated high-risk zones (zones A and V on FEMA’s map).

While many factors affect your home’s flood insurance rate, location and contents are the most significant. If your home is at a higher risk for flooding, you may need to pay a higher premium or choose to increase your policy’s deductible. Your home’s age and construction type are also factors, as older homes that lack mitigation features or weren’t built to modern floodproofing standards are more likely to require a higher policy premium.

It’s worth remembering that flood maps change over time. Things like climate conditions, dam improvements, and new neighbourhoods can shift the boundaries of a community’s SFHA. The risk assessment used by your insurer, the Flood Factor, is based on the likelihood of your home experiencing a flood and can be different than your home’s FEMA-designated flood zone.


Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States, costing homeowners, insurers, and taxpayers billions annually. Since standard homeowners insurance doesn’t include flood damage, purchasing a separate flood policy is important. But how much coverage do you need? The answer to that question can vary by location, the size of your home, and the value of your possessions. A home inventory and a visit with an insurance agent can help you determine the amount of building coverage, as well as contents, you should get.

The type of flood zone you live in also affects your coverage needs. FEMA’s mapping tool helps determine whether your property is in a Special Flood Hazard Area or SFHA. Homes in SFHAs have a 1% chance of flooding over a year.

If your property is in a moderate or low-risk flood zone, you can avoid buying flood insurance. But if you need a mortgage to buy a house, most lenders will require you to obtain a flood policy.

Some steps you can take, such as elevating electrical panels and water heaters, might reduce your flood insurance premium. But you’ll need to calculate the cost of those changes against your potential savings to decide if they make financial sense. Requesting quotes from several insurance companies and adjusting the policy limits can also help you find a flood insurance policy that fits your budget.