So let’s look at how FEMA determines if you are “at risk”. Flood maps, known officially as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS), show areas of high and moderate to low flood risk. Cities and counties use the maps to set minimum building requirements for coastal areas and floodplains. Lenders use them to determine flood insurance requirements, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses them to help determine what you pay for flood insurance.
High-risk areas are identified on the FIRMs as:
- Zones AE, A, AH, AR, A99, or AO. These properties have at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.
- Zones VE or V. These properties also have at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. In addition, these properties face hazards associated with coastal storm waves and storm surge.
Insurance note: Federally regulated or insured lenders require mortgage holders to purchase flood insurance for properties in high-risk areas.
An elevation survey of the lowest living level of your home is required in order to apply for Flood Insurance. The surveyor will provide a Flood Certificate showing the elevation. When buying a home, make sure to ask if a flood Certificate is available. Flood Insurance rates are based on the Flood Zone as determined by FEMA maps and the elevation of your home. The higher your home is above the required minimal flood elevation, the less your pay in premiums.
Moderate- to low-risk areas are identified on the FIRMs as:
- Shaded Zone X. The risk is reduced in these areas but not eliminated.
- Zone X. These properties are in an area of overall lower risk.
Insurance note: Lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) are often an option in these areas. Flood insurance coverage is not mandatory in these areas but is recommended, as the risk for flooding is still very real. Keep in mind that while your property could be designated as moderate to low risk, it still may be geographically close to a high-risk area.
In this case you should consider purchasing a Preferred Risk Flood Policy. Premiums are reasonable. Typically, for $250K on your Home and $100k Contents, annual premiums are $450. Every homeowner in Louisiana was probably eligible. Just because your Mortgage Company did not require you to purchase Flood Insurance does not mean you do not have a Risk of flooding or that you were not eligible for Flood Insurance.
Not sure about your home or business’s true Flood Risk, call SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc. 239-265-9577
We will help you assess your risk, review your present coverage and make recommendations. Do not take chances with your most important asset.