Flood coverage isn’t part of home insurance. Where to buy the extra protection

Written by Amy Ta and Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Marcelle Hutchins

Drivers motor through a flooded street in San Diego, California, U.S., January 16, 2023. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake.

California is assessing the damage from weeks of severe storms and the mudslides, sinkholes, downed trees, and fatal flooding that came with them. President Joe Biden plans to visit Central California later this week to view the aftermath. KCRW talks to Mark Friedlander, the director of corporate communications at the Insurance Information Institute, about getting flood insurance.

He says 2% of Californians have flood insurance, compared to the 4% national rate, and many people think they don’t need coverage because they don’t live in a FEMA-designated floodplain, or they falsely assume their standard home insurance covers flooding.

He explains that flood insurance is a separate policy that people must buy from the government or private sellers, and the latter may provide a more robust plan.

“[Private companies] have a cap of $250,000 for the structure of your home, and $100,000 for possessions, such as your clothing, your electronics, your furniture. Many of the private insurers offer much higher limits.”

While this type of insurance covers flooding, it doesn’t address other disasters, such as mudslides. Those are included in “earth movement” policies, similar to earthquake coverage.

Even if your home isn’t in a federally-designated flood zone, Friedlander says natural disasters can happen anywhere.

“You need to think about: ‘How do I fully financially protect my property and my family?’ Talk to your agent, get a few quotes, see if you could find an affordable level of coverage that will protect you much better from these hazards.”

He adds that renters can also buy flood insurance and it’s much cheaper.



  • Mark Friedlander - director of corporate communications at Insurance Information Institute