Elevation Certificates

What is an Elevation Certificate

An Elevation Certificate is a form the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses to document the elevation of a structure in comparison to the elevation of the 100-year flood. The difference between the structure and flood elevation is used for many purposes such as:

What Does an Elevation Certificate Cost?

We are asked this all the time and rightfully so.  You are told you need to buy a flood insurance policy, which is separate from your homeowner’s policy.  And then you are told you need a separate elevation certificate to calculate the proper premium.  Or maybe you already have flood insurance and you were told getting a proper elevation certificate could lower your rising premium.  So what does the elevation certificate cost?

The national average cost for an elevation certificate is about $600 and the range is about $169 to $2,000 or more.  There are a lot of reasons elevation certificate costs vary, including: occupancy type, structure type, demand, location, timing, data, and quality.

The FEMA 100 year flood zone explained.

I use the term “100-year flood zone daily for elevation certificates, LOMA’s, and explaining flood maps.  But it doesn't mean what you might think.  It means there is a 1% chance you will see a flood like the one on the FEMA flood map each and every year.  Since 1% is also "1 out of 100", the term "100-year flood" was adopted because that's easier to talk about than rattling off a bunch of statistics.

 

FEMA sometimes shows a 500-year flood on their maps and that is technically the 0.2% annual chance flood.  Try saying "zero point two percent annual chance flood zone" two dozen times a day and you can see why we use the short version.

 

Where does the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) come from?

FEMA defines the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) as the computed elevation to which the flood is anticipated to rise during the base flood.  The base flood is also referred to as the 1-percent annual chance flood or 100-year flood.  Just in case those terms are new to you, the 1-percent annual chance flood means that, statistically, there's a 1% chance every year that there will be a flood that looks like the one on the FEMA maps.  But it could flood less, or more, or many times a year, or not at all.  The Base Flood Elevation is a baseline pulled together from historic weather data, local topography, and the best science available at the time.

FEMA is Changing the Elevation Certificate

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is considering several changes to the Elevation Certificate and Floodproofing Certificate.  The public comment period for those changes has closed, but the comments from the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), and others, can be viewed in the Federal Register.

 

Stay Safe.

Why do I need an Elevation Certificate?

Property owners are often informed by their insurance agent or lender that they need an Elevation Certificate—and their first response is typically, “what the heck is an Elevation Certificate?”