California Flood Insurance: What To Know

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Updated: 04 May 2024
Written by
Bob Phillips
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In the wake of rising water levels and unpredictable weather patterns, understanding flood insurance in California has never been more crucial. If you’re here, chances are you’re seeking clarity and reassurance about safeguarding your home and assets against the potentially devastating impacts of flooding. Rest assured, you’re in the right place.

Throughout my 15 years in the insurance industry in California, I’ve seen firsthand the dire consequences of being unprepared. From financial ruin to irreparable property damage, the risks of neglecting proper flood insurance are too significant to overlook. This article will guide you through the complexities of flood insurance in California, ensuring you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions.

The average cost of an NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) policy in California varies across different sources, but it generally falls within the range of $811 to $901 per year. This cost can be influenced by numerous factors, including your home’s location, its flood risk, and the amount of coverage you choose.

NFIP policies are available directly through the NFIP or can be purchased through a private insurer.

Key Takeaways

  • The average cost of a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy in California ranges between $811 to $901 per year.

  • Standard homeowners’ insurance in California does not cover flood damage.

  • Damage from earth movement, such as landslides or sinkholes, is not covered by flood insurance.

How Much Is Flood Insurance In California?

When it comes to flood insurance in California, costs can vary. The average annual premium for an NFIP policy in the state is typically within the range of $811 to $901. This cost fluctuates based on several factors, including the location of your home and its associated flood risk.

For instance, if your home is located in a high-risk flood zone, you can expect to pay a higher premium. Conversely, homes in low-risk areas might have lower flood insurance costs, with an average cost of around $850 per year.

Despite the expense, investing in an NFIP policy can offer up to $250,000 of dwelling coverage and $100,000 for contents, providing substantial protection against the potentially devastating financial impact of flood damage. It’s a smart investment considering the high repair and recovery costs often associated with flooding.

City Average Cost of Flood Insurance
Los Angeles $820
San Diego $800
San Francisco $875
Sacramento $900
Fresno $815
Oakland $840
Bakersfield $795
Santa Ana $825
Riverside $810
Irvine $835

Please note: The table above is an illustrative example based on the average cost of flood insurance in California. Actual costs may vary depending on specific city rates and flood risk levels. Always consult with a licensed insurance agent or broker to obtain accurate information.

Average Costs by Flood Zone

Flood Zone Average Cost of Flood Insurance
High Risk (AE, VE) $1,000 – $2,000 per year
Moderate Risk (B, X) $500 – $1,000 per year
Low Risk (C, X) $450 – $650 per year

Cheapest Cities for Flood Insurance in California

City Average Cost of Flood Insurance
Alpine $305
Bakersfield $635
Anaheim $645
Oakland $485
Sacramento $565
San Diego $705
San Jose $750
Fresno $775
Riverside $800
Irvine $820

Most Expensive Cities for Flood Insurance in California

City Average Cost of Flood Insurance
Imperial County $2,247
East Palo Alto $1,350
Foster City $1,310
Menlo Park $1,290
Long Beach $1,146
San Luis Obispo $964
Los Angeles $850
San Francisco $802
Fresno $670
Sacramento $563

What does flood insurance cover in California?

In light of the increased risk of flooding due to climate change and other factors, it’s essential to understand what flood insurance covers. Despite common misconceptions, standard homeowners’ insurance in California does not cover flood damage. This is where flood insurance comes into play, providing you with the necessary protection against potential flood damage.

Flood insurance typically covers damage resulting from scenarios such as heavy rainfall, overflowing bodies of water, and hurricane storm surges. The coverage extends to both your home and your belongings.

Building Coverage

This part of a flood insurance policy covers the physical structure of your home and its foundation. It also includes electrical and plumbing systems, central air and heating systems, attached bookcases, cabinets, and paneling, and a detached garage (limited to up to 10% of your home insurance coverage). The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers coverage for your dwelling structure at replacement cost or actual cash value.

Contents Coverage

This component of flood insurance protects your personal belongings inside the house. It includes coverage for furniture, clothing, electronics, curtains, portable appliances, freezers and the food within them, and certain valuable items such as original artwork.

What does flood insurance not cover in California?

While flood insurance provides essential coverage for your home and belongings in the event of a flood, it’s equally important to understand what it doesn’t cover. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions about additional insurance needs or necessary precautions.

Flood insurance typically does not cover:

Damage Outside Your Home

Flood insurance generally covers damage directly caused by flooding to your home and its contents. However, it does not cover damage to landscaping, fences, septic systems, or swimming pools.

Living Expenses

If your home is uninhabitable due to flood damage, your flood insurance policy will not cover temporary housing or living expenses during repairs.


Your flood insurance policy does not cover damage to vehicles. It’s worth noting, however, that comprehensive auto insurance usually covers vehicle damage due to flooding.

Post-Flood Mold Damage

Flood insurance does not cover mold or mildew damage that could have been avoided by the homeowner. This means that if you don’t take necessary steps to prevent mold growth after a flood, any resulting damage will likely not be covered.

Certain Valuables

High-value items such as precious metals, currency, and important papers are not covered under flood insurance. The policy also has limitations on coverage for artwork and furs.

Earth Movement

Even if it is caused by a flood, damage from earth movement, such as landslides or sinkholes, is not covered by flood insurance.

Knowing what your flood insurance policy does not cover allows you to take necessary precautions and consider additional insurance coverage if needed. For example, you may want to consider an additional policy for high-value belongings not covered under your flood insurance.

How to Buy Flood Insurance in California

In California, flood insurance provides invaluable protection for homeowners. The risk of flooding due to heavy rainfall, overflowing bodies of water, and storm surges makes it a necessary consideration. Here’s how you can buy flood insurance in California:

Buying Flood Insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a federal program that offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Here are the steps to purchase flood insurance through the NFIP:

  • Identify a Participating Community: First, verify that your community participates in the NFIP. You can do this by using the Community Status Book provided by FEMA.
  • Contact an Insurance Agent: Reach out to your insurance agent or company. They can help you purchase an NFIP policy. If you don’t have an agent, you can find one using the agent locator tool on
  • Wait for the Policy to Take Effect: It’s important to note that there’s typically a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before your policy goes into effect.

Buying Flood Insurance through a Private Insurer

Private flood insurance is an alternative to the NFIP and can be purchased through private insurance companies. Here’s how:

  • Find a Private Insurer: Find an insurer who offers private flood insurance. You can use online quote tools like the one offered by Insuranceopedia or consult with insurance brokers who deal with multiple insurance carriers, such as California Flood Insurance.
  • Get a Quote: Contact the insurer directly or fill out their online form to get a quote. The insurer will likely ask about your home’s location, construction, and flood risk to determine your premium.
  • Review and Purchase the Policy: Review the terms of the policy, including coverage limits and exclusions, before purchasing. Unlike NFIP policies, private policies may not have a waiting period.

Whether you choose to buy flood insurance through the NFIP or a private insurer, be sure to understand your coverage and make sure it meets your needs.

Do I need flood insurance in California?

California law does not require homeowners to have a flood insurance policy. However, if your property is located in a high-risk flood zone and you have a federally-backed mortgage, you are required to buy flood insurance. Some banks may also require flood insurance as a condition of their loan agreements.


What is the average cost of flood insurance in California?

The average cost of flood insurance in California ranges from around $811 to $901 per year, depending on the source and specific location within the state.

Is flood insurance legally required in California?

Flood insurance is not legally required by California state law. However, if your property is located in a high-risk flood zone and you have a federally-backed mortgage, flood insurance is required.

Does homeowners insurance cover floods in California?

Standard homeowners insurance policies in California do not cover floods. This means homeowners must purchase separate flood insurance to protect against this type of disaster.


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