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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.

Why Your BFE is Wrong

The Base Flood Elevation (BFE) represents the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 1% Annual Chance Floodplain (aka. 100-year flood). Generally speaking, the nearer the structure’s elevation is to the BFE the greater the risk, and for structure elevations below the BFE, the further the structure’s elevation is to the BFE, the more flood water would be expected to inundate the structure during a flood event causing greater damage, therefore higher insurance premiums.

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.

HOW TO DISPUTE A FEMA FLOOD ZONE DETERMINATION

Most lenders will contact a Flood Zone Determination company to obtain a Standard Flood Hazard Determination (SFHD) as part of their closing process and in most cases a property insurance agent will make the same request from the same or a different Flood Zone Determination company. With two or more SFHDs being produced for a single location, disagreements in results can arise. These discrepancies can delay closing or the placement of a flood insurance policy. 

How do I get a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA)?

For FEMA to remove a structure from the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) through the LOMA process, Federal regulations require the lowest ground touching the structure, also known as the Lowest Adjacent Grade (LAG) elevation, to be at or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). But how do I get a LOMA?

 

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