|Make certain you have flood insurance at the best possible rates before the new maps take effect.Except for Preferred Risk Policies, that gives you the option of continuing the same rates after the new maps are adopted. Check the options outlined previously for the best rate. Identify your flood zone on the proposed new map. Your insurance agent may have a copy of the current flood map but is unlikely to have the proposed maps. You can usually review the proposed maps in your local government’s building or planning office. Look for notices of public meetings where the proposed maps will be displayed and local, state, and/or federal officials will be available to answer your flood map and insurance questions.
If you don’t have flood insurance now, consider purchasing a policy before the new maps take effect.
If your home is located in an X Zone on the current map, outside the high-risk area, your lender may not have required coverage, and you never thought you needed it. This is a potential mistake. (See the third bullet under “Helpful Tips”.) You may decide later that you need flood insurance, or your mortgage company might insist. If the proposed map places you in a higher risk zone, and you have a federally backed mortgage, your lender will notify you by letter after the new map goes into effect and request that you purchase flood insurance. If you do not purchase the insurance within 45 days of notification, the lender will force-place the insurance and charge you for the cost. The cost of a force-placed insurance policy is usually much higher than a properly written and rated policy.
If your lowest floor elevation (including a basement) exceeds the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) on the new maps, check for possible elevation discounts.
Elevation discounts are available for structures whose lowest floor elevations are higher than the established BFE.
What do the different Zone designations mean?
The table below provides an explanation for the most commonly found flood zone designations on a Flood Insurance Rate Map.
Encourage your insurance agent and local officials to keep any copies of the old flood maps. They can be hard to obtain after new maps have taken effect.
Make a copy of the portion of the map panel showing your home’s location.
Consider buying flood insurance even if you are outside the designated Special Flood Hazard Area. On average, more than 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from the less risk-prone flood zones that are designated as B, C, or X zones. Ask your insurance agent about the Preferred Risk Policy — it may be just what you need to protect your most important investment.
Do not let your flood insurance lapse. Having continuous flood insurance coverage protects your property against flood damage and assures that the basis for rating your policy remains unchanged.
Keep a copy of your elevation certificate. It documents your building elevation as well as the flood zone and BFE in effect when the home was built.
If your elevation certificate shows that the ground level at your home is above the BFE, you can request a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove your home or your entire lot from an AE flood Zone. You may then qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy at a lower rate.
If you are buying a structure that has flood insurance coverage, talk to your insurance agent about having the flood insurance policy “assigned” to you by the seller so that the coverage is continuous.
The lack of flood openings in buildings elevated on solid foundation walls can significantly raise your rates. Contact your local building department for assistance on ways that your home could be altered to reduce the cost of flood insurance. Such alterations might include the installation of flood vents or the elevation of utility equipment (i.e., water heater, furnace, oil tanks, etc.) above the flood level.
Consider higher deductibles. Deductibles up to $5,000 are available that will reduce annual premiums. Check with your mortgage lender before increasing the deductibles.
Encourage your community to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS), which provides insurance premium discounts based on activities and higher regulatory standards that the community implements. In a CRS community everyone enjoys living in a safer community while receiving flood insurance discounts.
How will I know when new flood maps are being issued for my community?
Ask your local floodplain manager. (Your City Clerk or County Manager’s office can help you locate him or her).
Look for an official notice in your local newspaper.
Look for articles in community newsletters, inserts in your utility bill, etc.
Check your community’s website.
This summary is not an alternative to the flood insurance manual or local construction regulations. It is intended to give property owners and flood insurance policy holders some ideas on what to do if a revised flood map is proposed and you wish to keep your flood insurance premiums to a minimum under the regulations. To describe the general issues in the clearest language, numerous simplifications have been used. Contact your insurance agent for your rating options on specific buildings and contact your local building official or floodplain manager for details on local construction regulations.