Flood insurance is available on several markets, although not all markets are available to all Massachusetts residents. Here’s a look at the different places where people in the state might get flood coverage.
What is the Best Market for Massachusetts Residents to Purchase Flood Insurance Through?
The National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a federal program that seeks to mitigate the damage caused by flooding. Among other things, it helps residents in high-risk regions obtain affordable flood coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) oversees this program.
In order to purchase a flood policy through the NFIP, residents must live in a community that participates in the program. For residents who can obtain coverage through the program, its subsidized policies are often the most affordable (and sometimes the only affordable) options.
(FEMA maintains a list of Massachusetts communities that participate in the NFIP. A total of 341 programs participate. There are nine communities that don’t participate.)
The Write Your Own Program
In this program, private insurers underwrite what are known as “Standard Flood Insurance Policy” forms. There are policies for dwellings, general property, and condominium building associations, and each offers a different set of protections. The coverages in all of these policies, however, are identical to those offered by comparable non-Write Your Own NFIP policies.
From a policyholder's perspective, Write Your Own policies are often just as good as other NFIP policies. They’re subsidized and provide the same protections. They only difference is that these policies are offered by private insurers rather than a federal agency.
Thus, any residents who are able to purchase Write Your Own policies ought to consider them. (These policies aren’t offered in all areas.)
The Private Insurance Market
On the private insurance market, rates are determined by insurers and not subsidized. Residents who purchase policies through the private market don’t receive assistance from the federal government. Despite the lack of subsidy, there are a few reasons why residents may purchase a policy through the private market.
First, residents who aren’t able to get flood coverage through the NFIP or Write Your Own program usually don’t have other options. If they want a flood policy, they normally have to get it on the private market. Even though their policy won’t be subsidized, it often is still affordable because residents who can’t take advantage of the NFIP or Write Your Own program typically live in low- and moderate-risk areas. The likelihood of them having a flood claim is relatively low, so insurers are able to keep their premiums reasonable.
Second, some insurers may offer more lax requirements for policies obtained through the private market than those purchased through the NFIP or Write Your Own program. For instance, insurers might not require an elevation certificate when a policy is purchased on the private market. The programs normally require such a certificate. Additionally, a private market policy might have a 14-day waiting period rather than a 30-day period.
Finally, some residents may want more protection than NFIP and Write Your Own policies afford. Because insurers don’t have to meet program-specific requirements when drafting policies for the private market, residents may find a wider array of coverage options on this market.
Get Flood Coverage for Your Massachusetts Property
If you’d like help finding coverage for flood protection on a property in Massachusetts, contact an independent insurance agent near you. They’ll be able to check what programs (if any) you’re able to take advantage of and help you shop all available markets for a policy that best meets your needs.