To buy flood insurance, you can go one of two routes: a federal government policy from the National Flood Insurance Program, or a private flood insurance policy that's written and backed by a private insurer.
Flooding has become more common and destructive in recent years due to rising sea levels, heavier rainfall, and more extreme hurricanes, so it’s important to ensure your house is fully protected with an adequate amount of flood insurance coverage — even if you live in an area that isn't necessarily at high risk for damage.
Here’s five things you should know about getting flood insurance in 2023.
1. Determine whether you need flood insurance
Before getting flood insurance quotes, you’ll first want to find out if your house is at risk. One way to do this is by checking if your home is in an area at risk of flooding according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps.
If your house is in a high-risk flood zone (shaded blue) according to these maps and you have a mortgage on your house, your lender will generally require you to buy flood insurance. If your address falls in a moderate flood hazard area (shaded orange) or an area with minimal risk (unshaded), your lender may not require flood insurance. However, you should consider purchasing it anyway.
While FEMA maps can provide you a general idea of whether you live in a community that experiences flooding, it isn't the best indicator of property-level flood risk. To more accurately assess your home's flood risk and find out your flood insurance needs, use a flood modeling tool like Risk Factor that utilizes advanced technology and considers numerous sources of flooding to determine a property's current and future risk.
2. Where to buy flood insurance
Once you’ve established your home’s flood zone and risk, you’ll want to get familiar with all of the entities who provide it so you’re able to make a sound shopping decision. There are two main ways to get flood insurance
Through an agent or insurance company who participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a FEMA-backed program that accounts for most flood insurance policies in the U.S.
Through an insurance company that writes its own private flood insurance — these policies generally offer more coverage and shorter waiting periods than NFIP plans, but your provider is able to cancel or nonrenew your coverage if they choose.
Learn more >> The best flood insurance companies for 2023
How to buy FEMA flood insurance
According to FloodSmart.gov, you can buy NFIP flood insurance through an NFIP-partnering insurance company or independent agent.  The NFIP currently partners with around 50 companies, including Allstate, Farmers, and USAA. In fact, you can often purchase this coverage through the same company that provides you home insurance.
You’ll also need to live in a community that participates in the NFIP, of which there are currently 24,000. Find out if your community participates in the NFIP.
How to buy private flood insurance
To buy private flood insurance, you’ll need to search online for companies that offer coverage in your area. Companies that sell their own private flood coverage include Aon, Chubb, Neptune, and TypTap.
While NFIP flood insurance is written by private companies or agents but backed by the federal government, private flood insurance is written and backed by private companies. This allows companies to take on more risk and offer higher coverage limits. With the NFIP, the maximum amount of flood insurance you can purchase is $250,000.
Learn more >> NFIP vs. private flood insurance
3. Learn about how much coverage you need
If your mortgage lender requires flood insurance, they’ll likely specify how much coverage you need to purchase. In most cases, you’ll need at least enough to cover your remaining loan balance. That means if you owe $200,000 on your mortgage, you’ll need at least that amount of building property coverage.
However, if your house is in an area with high or even moderate flood risk, you'll want to consider more than just the minimum amounts required.
How to determine how much building coverage you need: When setting your building coverage limit, you'll want to make sure it's equal to the home's replacement cost value. The dwelling coverage limit on your homeowners insurance policy is a good barometer for this. For something more up-to-date and precise, contact a certified replacement cost appraisal or use an online replacement cost calculator
How to determine how much personal property coverage you need: To set your personal property coverage limit, add up the value of all of your personal belongings inside the home. Setting up a home inventory with property descriptions and prices is an effective and convenient way to figure out the value of everything you own.
4. Compare flood insurance quotes
Once you’ve evaluated your flood insurance options, be sure to compare flood insurance quotes from at least three companies through a marketplace like Policygenius. With Policygenius, you can compare NFIP and private flood insurance rates from multiple companies, including Neptune, Orchid, Palomar, and Progressive.
5. Finalize and buy your flood insurance policy
Once you’ve compared quotes and selected a policy, there are a few boxes you’ll want to check off before you pay your first premium.
Ask about community-wide discounts: NFIP policyholders who live in communities enrolled in the NFIP’s Community Rating System are eligible for flood insurance discounts of up to 45%, according to FEMA. 
Get an elevation certificate: An elevation certificate (EC) provides evidence of your home’s elevation relative to your area’s base flood elevation, which is the maximum height floodwaters can rise to during a flood event. If you recently mitigated your home’s flood risk by elevating your house or filling in your basement, an EC can provide the proof you need to get discounts on flood insurance.
Choose a flood insurance deductible: Your flood insurance deductible is the amount you’re responsible for paying on each claim before your insurance kicks in. A high policy deductible means lower flood insurance rates, but it also means you’ll be paying more out of pocket in the event of a claim.
Understand how your premiums are paid: If you’re required to buy flood insurance for your mortgage, you’ll likely need to purchase the policy before your home’s closing date. If you have an escrow account, your flood insurance may be paid as part of your monthly mortgage payment. Be sure to confirm this with your lender.
Once your first flood insurance payment is made, you’ll have a waiting period before your policy goes into effect. For NFIP flood insurance, the waiting period is around 30 days; for private flood insurance, waiting periods are as little as two weeks.