Skip to main content

Flood Insurance: Which States Are Most At-Risk?

5 minute read

By Ryan Pratt

Flood insurance might not be at the top of your to-do list. However, if you live in a state along the Gulf Coast, or even a landlocked state with high rates of flooding, you’re at a much higher risk of costly damages. Just a single inch of floodwater can cause upwards of $25,000 in damage.

Focusing on the most at-risk states, here’s why you should consider flood insurance before the unthinkable happens.

Texas

Texas is at the top of our list because it’s vulnerable to floods near the coast and along Flash Flood Alley in Central and North Texas. With so many flooding hot spots, almost every major city in the state is at high risk.

Texas Department of Insurance can cover your home for up to $250,000, while a separate policy can cover personal belongings up to $100,000. Similar offers are available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, there’s a wait period before these policies take effect, so don’t wait until a storm blows in!

Shutterstock: Andrew Zarivny

New York

Taking the second spot on our list is New York, a state which federally requires flood insurance if you live in the most high-risk areas.

As climate change intensifies, previously low-risk neighborhoods are being rezoned as higher risk areas. As a result, premiums have risen across the state. Neither the climate trend nor the escalating prices are liable to diminish any time soon. But by purchasing flood insurance now, you can stabilize your rate against future policy changes.

Shutterstock

New Jersey

Unsurprisingly, New Jersey is almost as vulnerable to flooding as its neighbour across the Hudson River. The two states absorbed the brunt of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and insurance claims from that catastrophic storm continue to this day.

Approximately 17% of New Jersey rests within a high-risk flood zone, however the boundaries of those areas – as well as their premiums – are subject to change. Locking down your insurance plan now can help grandfather your property into its price before the rates change again.

Shutterstock: Brian Derr

Louisiana

Nobody should be surprised to see Louisiana on this list, as the memories of Hurricane Katrina remain so vivid for many Americans. The state continues to get hammered by historic weather events, such as the floods of 2016.

Louisianans are not required by law to obtain flood insurance, but they can be barred from getting a federally-backed mortgage if the home resides in a high-risk area. It’s also noteworthy to mention that 25% of flood insurance claims originate from outside the high-risk zones.

Since flood damage isn’t covered by Louisiana insurance policies (whether you’re a homeowner or renter), it makes sense to seek some coverage.

Shutterstock: Chris Nicotera

Florida

More than 75% of flood insurance payouts from the NFIP have been distributed to five states – the four we’ve just discussed, and Florida. To put it another way, these five states account for 67% of total flood insurance claims!

Despite Florida’s high risk for flooding, only 18% of Florida homeowners had flood insurance in 2022. Granted, the premiums of coverage are expensive in Florida, but the odds of losing everything – the way many residents did after Hurricane Ian – is likely costlier.

Shutterstock: FotoKina

California

The state of California has been home to historic floods, including the Great Flood of 1892. In recent years, the Russian River flooding and the Lake Oroville runoff has resulted in significant damages and evacuation orders. In particular, the 2017 Oroville Dam spillway disaster revealed just how vulnerable the state is to flooding.

Reports suggest that California will need to spend at least $34 billion to fix its aging and malfunctioning dams, levees, and other flooding infrastructure. This price tag is double what California has currently invested, which means that more devastating floods will continue to happen.

Shutterstock: Gibson Outdoor Photo

Mississippi

This state has a long history of flooding, from the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 to the cresting of the Pearl River in 2022. Unfortunately, this history is reflected in Mississippi’s homeowner insurance options, which do not protect against flooding.

Almost 4.5 million NFIP payouts have been distributed in Mississippi since 1978, making this state a very safe bet when considering flood insurance.

Shutterstock

Pennsylvania

Even though Pennsylvania doesn’t have direct access to the coastline, their proximity to flood-heavy states like New Jersey and New York help them land on this list.

Much like those neighboring states, Pennsylvania has had to endure policy changes due to the redrafting of their flood maps. As a result, some residents have discovered that their homes have been redrawn into high-risk flood zones, thereby necessitating flood insurance.

Since floods can happen anywhere – but especially in a state that absorbs a lot of hurricane rain – it might be worth looking into your coverage options.

Shutterstock

Alabama

Alabama knows a thing or two about natural disasters, having wrestled with the likes of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan. Between 2000 and 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paid nearly $500 million in flood-related assistance to individuals, and more than $730 million to public groups.

If you’re wondering how frequently a flood must happen in Alabama to warrant those costs, the answer is every 12 days. And given that more and more residential communities are being built in low-lying coastal areas, it makes sense for Alabamians to consider upping their insurance.

Shutterstock: Wayne James

Missouri

Rounding out our top ten at-risk states is Missouri, which is surprising, given that the state is double-landlocked. Alas, with flash floods and many communities residing on floodplains, it’s inevitable that Missourians need flood insurance.

Beyond the need to protect your residence and your belongings, of course, is the desire to protect your loved ones. In 2015 alone, flash flooding in Missouri took the lives of 27 people. This horrible reminder of nature’s power is yet another reason to prepare ahead. Don’t risk your life to protect your home or salvage possessions.

Shutterstock: Dave Weaver

The Cost Of Flood Insurance

The average cost of flood insurance varies by state, but takes the following criteria into consideration:

  • The location, elevation, size, construction type, and age of your home
  • The coverage in your policy, as well as the deductible amount

By researching the options of the state in which you reside, you can speak with an insurance agent and get a quote today.

Wallet, Calculator and Other Money ToolsShutterstock

Floods Can Happen Anywhere

Even if you live in a state with relatively low rates of flooding, like Wyoming, it’s worth noting that 40% of NFIP’s flood insurance claims occur outside the highest-risk flood areas.

And since 10 of the most expensive floods in the history of the NFIP have happened within the last 20 years, it stands to reason that we’re all in for more extreme weather over the coming years.

Shutterstock: IrinaK

Key Takeaways

  • Basic homeowner insurance doesn’t cover costly flood damage in any of these at-risk states.
  • Nearly 40% of insurance claims come from outside high-risk zones, so it’s a smart idea to consider flood insurance.

Ryan Pratt

Contributor

Explore

Why Renters’ Insurance is Worth The Money Hands Covering Mini House Home Insurance

Why Renters’ Insurance is Worth The Money

A generation ago, renting was viewed largely as a temporary living situation on the road to home ownership. However, thanks to various economic and lifestyle factors, people in their 20s and 30s are now waiting longer to buy a home. Some are foregoing it altogether. In general, one of the advantages of renting is that […]

Read More about Why Renters’ Insurance is Worth The Money

6 minute read

See all in Home Insurance