Can You Buy Flood Insurance for Renters? Everything You Need to Know

November 2, 2019

Not many renters know that they not only can buy flood insurance for a rental property, but they should, too. It becomes particularly important as hurricanes grow harsher, and the season lasts longer.

The low rate of renters’ flood insurance isn’t surprising because only 46 percent of renters have renters insurance. That means over half of America’s renters don’t know what they’re missing in terms of coverage and peace of mind.

Do you know what flood insurance for renters offers? Read this guide to find out.

What Does Flood Insurance for Renters Provide?

If you rent your apartment or house, then your renter’s flood insurance covers your personal items, both big and small. It replaces expensive items — like furniture and large electronics — as well as smaller personal items, like clothing.

Flood insurance can also help cover temporary living expenses if you need to leave your apartment and stay in a hotel or Airbnb. Any leftover funds can be spent on food or laundry while you’re away.

Won’t Renters or Contents Insurance Cover It?

Renter’s insurance does protect your damaged or lost possessions. Usually, the protection extends to theft, vandalism, or fire. It doesn’t cover the flooding caused by natural disasters.

That’s why you need a second or supplemental flood insurance policy. It picks up where your comprehensive coverage leaves off.

How Much Insurance Do You Need?

Most renters only need between $10,000 and $50,000 in coverage.

The sweet spot depends on the value of your belongings. If you have high-end furniture or a significant amount of electronics, then you’ll need more than someone who got their sofa second-hand.

To figure out how much insurance is enough, you need to produce a home inventory. Write down a list of your primary belongings and assess each piece’s worth. Receipts are very helpful, so if you buy a new piece of furniture or another large item, be sure to hold onto the receipt.

Keep your inventory in the cloud, or store a paper copy somewhere safe. You don’t want it to get lost if your house floods.

What About Expensive Items?

Like most basic forms of insurance, a standard policy won’t cover items like fine art, expensive jewelry, and gold bars (hey, you never know). In most cases, a supplemental renters insurance policy provides extra coverage for these luxe pieces of property.

To get a policy to cover items like these, you need an appraisal and a copy of the assessment as well as the original purchase receipt.

Who Should Get Flood Insurance?

Generally, if you live in a high-risk flood area, then you should get flood insurance. Even the property owner has to get it. If they purchased their house with a mortgage, then their lender probably required them to buy and maintain the policy.

Moreover, if you live in these areas, general insurance definitely won’t cover flood damage. So if you already have renter’s insurance, read your policy. It might purposely exclude flooding, and you need a supplemental plan.

How do you know if you live in a high-risk flood area? It’s easy. You can enter your address into FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center. Alternatively, you can look at the flood maps and zones produced by Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. If you have questions about the logistics of flood hazards, contact your county’s Flood Information Services.

When is it Time to Buy?

You should enroll in your policy before the start of hurricane season. Most plans don’t take effect for 30 days, so you should aim to buy by the end of April at the latest. It’s better to have the policy for peace of mind rather than making a last-minute decision based on the forecast.

Are you outside the severe flood zone? Keep in mind that floods can happen anywhere it rains. Plus, as storms grow stronger and more predictable, flooding becomes more likely. It’s always better to be safe than to lose everything you own with no way of recouping the loss.

Is Flood Insurance for Renters Expensive?

No, flood insurance for renters is not expensive. Why? Because the most costly part of dealing with the aftermath of the flood is any structural damage to the property. If you rent, then you don’t own the property. As a result, the structural damage doesn’t come out of your insurance.

The cost of flood insurance depends on several factors, like:

  1. Age of the building
  2. Number of stories
  3. Number of occupants
  4. Flood zone
  5. Chosen deductible

Unlike other types of coverage, flood insurance generally doesn’t vary from state to state. The FEMA flood zone assignment usually provides a helpful estimate.

According to FEMA, the average flood insurance policy costs $545 per year for homeowners. You’re more likely to have a lower policy cost if you live on a higher floor. Additionally, if you live in a low-to-moderate risk area, you may receive the lowest premiums available through a Preferred Risk Policy.

Think the low likelihood of flooding means the expense isn’t worth it? Think again. FEMA says that over a quarter of its National Flood Insurance Program claims came from apartments and houses assigned a low-to-moderate risk.

An insurance agent can help you choose a policy that covers your essential needs without leaving a dent in your budget.

Are Your Possessions Protected?

Just because you rent doesn’t mean you should skip insurance. Flood insurance for renters is a woefully underrated product, and everyone who lives in a flood zone on Florida’s coast should consider it as an option.

Are your possessions protected from natural disasters like hurricanes? Click here to learn about the insurance products we offer for renters like you.