Hurricane insurance: Do you have it? Need it? Six things to know.

As hurricane Irene heads for the East Coast, here are answers to six key questions about insurance.

3. How much does flood insurance cost?

Jose Luis Magana / AP
Jeremy Pickett cuts pieces of boards Aug. 24, 2011, to protect the windows in a shopping store in Cape Hatteras, N.C., in preparation for hurricane Irene. Homeowners in high-risk areas can spend anywhere from $580 to $5,900 for federal flood insurance.

Rates vary, depending on whether you live in a “moderate-to-low” risk area or a "high-risk" area. Coastal areas are considered high risk, and premiums range from $580 a year, for up to $45,000 in both building and personal property damage, to $5,903 a year, for up to $350,000 for combined building and personal property damage. Policies can also be purchased individually, for either personal property or building damages. That way homeowners can opt out of one, or mix and match how much to insure property in each category.

A list of the costs of different premiums for National Flood Insurance Program policies can be found here.

If you wish to protect against damage for more than the maximum coverage that the federal programs offer, “You can go to companies like Lloyd’s of London, [and] you can buy excess flood policy,” says Mr. Csiszar. But he adds, those policies typically have a “much higher rate” than the federal program.

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