What is a pre-FIRM Flood Insurance Discount?

Pre-FIRM flood insurance means you can receive discounted flood insurance premiums from the federal government because your house was built before FEMA created a flood map for your property.

For most properties, pre-FIRM flood insurance discounts are available if your property was built before 12/1/1974. The actual date varies a little bit because all the flood maps were not created at the same time, so you’ll have to check with a professional (like MassiveCert) to know the exact date. If your property was built before a builder could have known about the flood risk, then you get a special discount on your flood insurance premiums.

FEMA identifies every building as either pre-FIRM or post-FIRM, depending on its construction date in relation to the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) issued for a community. Most initial FIRMs were issued in the mid ‘70s. The significance of this designation is that prior to FEMA producing a FIRM for your community, it is very likely that your community had not adopted any building codes designed to minimize the impact of flooding on new construction projects. So, if you are paying for flood insurance on a Pre-FIRM building, then you started out with the NFIP’s subsidized pre-FIRM rate.  But ”subsidized” isn’t always a bargain.

While FEMA does offer discounted rates when the insurance policy was first issued, the rate will increases each year until the discount is eliminated and you are paying FEMA’s full-risk rate. This is a recent change in the law due to new legislation to help make FEMA’s insurance program more solvent and prepare better for the changing flood risks the Nation faces

If you are receiving a pre-FIRM discount, the best thing you can do is consult with your flood insurance professional because FEMA allows your insurance agent to process your insurance application using different rules. Whichever rule benefits you the most (i.e. get’s you the lowest premium), that’s the one you get to use. In most cases, you are going to need an Elevation Certificate to take advantage of the lower rates in FEMA’s different rules. The Elevation Certificate is a certification from a state-licensed surveyor indicating how high your house is above (or below) the predicted flood waters. If the surveyor can prove that your house is above the flood, you can save more money.

If you are enjoying pre-FIRM flood insurance discounts today, make sure you discuss how an Elevation Certificate could stop the rising rates as the discounts are slowly eliminated. Your agent can’t change the rules, but they can use them to your advantage.

Bonus Tip: When you order your Elevation Certificate from MassiveCert, make sure to ask us how it can be used to remove you from the flood insurance mandate entirely. There’s another rule for that and it could save you thousands per year in insurance premiums.