Flood Insurance

Why did my Flood Zone Change and what do I do about it?

Your flood zone changed because FEMA updated your flood map due to natural and man-made events that occur over time. FEMA flood map updates are published 26 times a year and could cause you to pay higher or lower insurance premiums, pay insurance for the first time, or remove the insurance requirement from your property. You cannot stop a flood, but you can rebuild your life afterward when you are insured by the federal government or a private market policy that your loan servicer must accept.

MassiveCert Flood Zones for First Street Foundation

MassiveCert's 142 million FEMA flood zones were used by First Street Foundation to compare the organizations' flood risk perspective. Both models are beneficial and help move the flood risk conversation forward. But, the models are created for different purposes because the concept of a single definitive floodplain is a fallacy.

Risk, FEMA Flood Zones, and Insurance Premiums

This article is written to aid property owners regarding their flood risk. Floodplain Managers, flood insurance professionals, surveyors, etc. may note that this information is high-level and not every variable is covered. Even so, it is hoped this information helps those not directly involved in the industry understand the basic terms and how they relate to flood risk and flood insurance rates.

Will it Flood? It's all about Elevation!

Of course, the best way to keep a home from flooding is to build it well outside of a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). But we know, about 25% of flood claims come from properties not in these high-risk zones. Further, the risk of flooding is obviously vastly different between properties considered to be in low-risk areas when one is a few inches above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) and the other is many feet above that imaginary line (the elevation at which a hydrology study predicts 1% chance of flooding in any given year). What’s more, many individuals have to consider properties in SFHAs. Cities like New Orleans, Houston, and Charleston to name a few, don’t give home buyers and businesses many choices other than high risk areas.

New Lending Regulations Regarding Accepting Private Flood Insurance

When the Biggert Waters Act of 2012 (BW12) was passed, one of Congress’ goals was to allow for lender acceptance of private flood insurance policies to satisfy the mandatory purchase requirement. The Act contained vague language, and it took lending regulators seven years to finalize a rule for lenders to follow. Prior to the lending regulators creating the final rule, many lenders didn’t accept private flood policies as they were uncomfortable verifying compliance with the BW12 definition and worried about noncompliance fines and collateral protection.

The New NFIP Flood Insurance Manual Crosswalk

If you are like me, when the newly formatted NFIP Flood Insurance Manual came out on October 1st, you probably thought, “Well great! Now I have to start all over again learning this manual.”  I’ve been using the NFIP Flood Insurance Manual for over 16 years and have learned through long experience where to find certain flood insurance topics. I certainly didn’t relish having to re-learn where to find information. Despite the new format being more logical and following a transaction-by-transaction path through the lifecycle of a flood insurance policy, my first impulse was to cringe and curse.

The Latest NFIP Flood Insurance Manual-October 1, 2018

If you are like me, when the newly formatted NFIP Flood Insurance Manual came out on October 1st, you probably thought, “Well great! Now I have to start all over again learning this manual.”  I’ve been using the NFIP Flood Insurance Manual for over 16 years and have learned through long experience where to find certain flood insurance topics. I certainly didn’t relish having to re-learn where to find information. Despite the new format being more logical and following a transaction-by-transaction path through the lifecycle of a flood insurance policy, my first impulse was to cringe and curse.

Explaining the FEMA Clear Communication Initiative and Elevation Certificates

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) “Clear Communication Initiative” is intended to inform federal flood insurance policyholders of their flood risk as reflected on the most current Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).  This is something congress mandated in the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA, and specifically Section 28 of that Act).  The reasoning is sound, but there are parts that may be confusing, so I want to try and explain “Clear Communications”.

When is Flood Insurance Required?

So you finally did it.  You saved up enough money to put a down payment on your first home, and pay closing costs.  You spent hours completing paperwork, and gathering documents for your mortgage lender.

FEMA Clear Communication Initiative Letters and What They Mean for You

In early 2016, FEMA began mailing out clear communication initiative letters to flood insurance policyholders with new policies effective April 1, 2016 or later, and/or renewal dates of October 1, 2016 or later.  The purpose of these letters was to inform the policyholders of their current, re-mapped flood risk rating, and explain how that rating was assessed, as well as how it would likely impact what one would pay for flood insurance.  The letters further explain how the property owner may reduce flood insurance premiums by obtaining an Elevation Certificate.

FEMA separated the letters into 7 categories, each defined by a letter, A-F.  Your category can be found in the bottom right hand corner of your letter.  The categories are as follows:

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