It’s that time of year again! The time when we start paying attention to the named storms in the Atlantic and carefully watch their path as they twist and turn through the ocean. Now is a good time for a refresher on Flood Zones and how the National Flood Insurance Program works.
Do you know the flood zone for your home? The flood zone maps were recently updated and some areas that were not in a flood-prone zone before are now listed as lower risk areas and vice versa. You can view the new maps here, but I’m going to warn you…the maps are not easy to navigate. The best way to find out which flood zone you are in is to contact an insurance carrier participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). They can tell you your current flood zone. You can also contact your county building department.
There are three basic flood zones. A, B, and C. All of zone A requires flood insurance if your property is mortgaged. This zone is broken down into subzones such as Zone AE. Zone A is identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and requires an elevation certificate to determine the structure’s elevation above sea level. Building codes will require structures to meet a minimum elevation which is determined by the flood zone letters. (For example, A would have a lower elevation requirement than AE). You will also hear this area referred to as an area in the 100-year flood zone meaning it has a one percent chance per year of flooding. If your home is located in Zone B you are in a Moderate Flood area. This is the 500-year flood zone and insurance may not be mandatory but it is highly recommended. The C Zone has a minimal flood hazard and is outside of the SFHA areas. Insurance is not required, however, many of these areas did flood during Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma. This would be an area referred to as a 1000 year flood zone.
Even if you are not required to carry flood insurance, it’s a good idea to purchase a policy. If you are in zones B or C the cost is minimal. A few hundred dollars a year will cover you if your home is flooded due to a natural disaster. Many homeowners are surprised to hear that 20% of all flood claims come from zones that do not require flood insurance. Often, these homes see flooding due to runoff and sewer backups with heavy rains.
Another less widely known fact is that for a flood policy to kick in there has to be a minimum of two acres in your area flooded before the policy will cover the damage. So, if your yard floods but your neighbors’ yards are fine, most likely you will not have coverage even if you have flood insurance. Also, there is a minimum of 30-days after purchasing coverage before a policy is in effect. So, if a named storm is approaching and you decide to call for coverage you are too late.
In the event of widespread damage from flooding, and if your area is claimed a “Major Disaster Area”, FEMA will offer further assistance for families and communities affected by flooding. In this case, if you do not have insurance you may still be able to find some relief.
For more information on flood insurance and how you can purchase insurance, FEMA has a great resource page. It covers most common questions and who to contact to purchase flood insurance if you are not already covered.
Have you been affected by a flood in the past? If so, what can you share that may help others.