Frequently Asked Questions

RESIDENTS & BUSINESS OWNERS

If the previous FIRM showed that my property was in a low- or moderate-risk zone, but the new one shows it in a high-risk zone (i.e., Special Flood Hazard Area, or SFHA), what effect will that have?
 
If your home or business is shown to be in a high-risk zone (SFHA) on the new map, you will be required to purchase flood insurance if you have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. Over the life of a 30-year mortgage, the chance of a flood damaging your house is nearly three times greater than a fire. Even if you don’t have a mortgage, it is still recommended that you purchase flood insurance to cover personal property. Most homeowners, renters, and commercial insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage due to flooding.
 
If the previous FIRM showed that my property was in a high-risk zone (i.e., SFHA), but the new one shows it in a low- or moderate-risk zone, what effect will that have?
 
When the zone designation for a residence or other insurable structure changes from a high-risk SFHA to a moderate- or low-risk zone (shaded or unshaded Zone X on the FIRM), the requirement to purchase flood insurance will no longer apply. However, FEMA still recommends purchasing flood insurance because, although the risk may be lower, it is not eliminated. Properties outside SFHAs may be eligible for a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP), which is the lowest cost NFIP policy. Premiums range from $129 to $408 for a PRP that provides both building and contents coverage. The cost to renters for a PRP that covers contents ranges from $49 to $238. For more information on flood insurance, visit FloodSmart.gov or call 1-888-379-9531 toll-free.
 
If my property is not shown in the SFHA, does that mean I’m not at risk from flooding?
 
No. Flooding occurs not only in SFHAs, but also in moderate to low risk areas. Nationally, over 20 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas designated as moderate to low risk areas. In coastal areas, storm surge and wave impacts can vary locally along a section of shoreline due to the shoreline configuration and the presence of man-made shoreline protection structures and bridges. Because coastal flooding due to storm surge is also dependent on many variable local weather conditions, homes or properties on or near the coast and in the vicinity of the SFHA are at risk; purchase of flood insurance is strongly encouraged.
 
What will happen if I do not buy flood insurance when it is required?
 
If you do not purchase flood insurance, your lender can “force-place” a flood insurance policy on your property that typically costs significantly more than the policy you could have purchased on your own. “Force-place” means your lender will buy a policy and bill you for it. By law, federally regulated or insured lenders must require flood insurance in high-risk areas for property on which they have issued a loan. Policies purchased by lenders can be more expensive than NFIP policies purchased through your insurance agent. Talk to your insurance agent about flood insurance coverage options sooner rather than later. To locate an agent, visit FloodSmart.gov or call 1-888-379-9531 toll-free.
 
How much does flood insurance cost?
 
Property owners may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) that covers both the structure and its contents for as little as $129 per year. PRP coverage for renters starts at $49 a year. 

There may be other ways to save on flood insurance as well. If your home is elevated, for example, lower rates may apply. Higher deductibles can also be used to lower premiums.

Remember that the cost of properly protecting your house and contents from flood damage is far less than the cost of repairing flood damage or replacing the contents. To locate an agent, visit FloodSmart.gov or call 1-888-379-9531 toll-free.
 
As a renter, can I still purchase flood insurance?
 
Yes. You can purchase a policy to protect the contents of your dwelling. Coverage for renters starts at $49 a year. To locate an agent, visit FloodSmart.gov or call 1-888-379-9531 toll-free.

What do I do if I believe my home or business is incorrectly mapped in a high-risk area once the new FIRM been finalized?
 
The flood risk zone designations on new maps are based on the best data available to Federal, State, and local officials when the areas on the maps were studied. Every effort is made to ensure that the maps reflect the most accurate and reliable flood hazard information for all properties. However, some areas of high ground are occasionally shown in SFHAs. FEMA makes determinations about whether individual structures or lots should be included in an SFHA based on information submitted by the property owner through the Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) process. Before requesting a LOMA, you may wish to talk with a Map Specialist.
 
I live/work close to a levee. Does that mean I’m not at risk from flooding?
 
No. No levee system provides complete protection from all flood events, although they do reduce impacts during certain flood events. Levees can and do fail, and FEMA strongly encourages citizens living and working near levees to take action to reduce the risk to their families, businesses, and property. This can include purchasing flood insurance through the NFIP, familiarizing yourself with local evacuation procedures, having a family or business emergency plan in place, and adhering to local floodplain management regulations when constructing or substantially improving your building. For more information, visit FEMA’s Living with Levees Homepage

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