So, you decided to purchase or refinance a home and it turns out that it’s in a FEMA-designated Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and your lender says, “you have two options, get flood insurance or a get a LOMA.” Sound familiar?
Although many homes are correctly shown in the SFHA (Special Flood Hazard area or high-risk flood zone), sometimes there’s newer or better information available that wasn’t considered when FEMA established the high-risk flood zone. FEMA uses engineering best practices and standards to delineate its flood zones, but the data is usually only good to +/- 2 feet. That’s why FEMA created the MT-1 process allowing property owners to challenge the zone classification of their home or property by submitting more detailed information.
The most common MT-1 type is a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) which is based on existing, natural ground conditions and account for roughly 90% of all MT-1s. Other types include LOMR-Fs, CLOMAs, and CLOMR-Fs and are used if earthen fill was placed during construction or if the request is based on proposed conditions. Often times a community will require a conditional removal from the high-risk flood zone before they will issue a construction permit.
Most MT-1 determinations are issued for structures, but FEMA will also issue determinations on an entire property or a portion of property. Since structures are usually elevated higher than surrounding land, the odds of a successful removal increases when a structure is the subject of the determination.
If you are issued a LOMA and can get out of the mandatory federal flood insurance purchase requirement, that doesn’t mean you are safe from flooding. Nearly 25% of all flood claims come from outside the FEMA flood zone, so ask your insurance agent about a low-cost preferred-risk flood insurance policy to protect your family.