Flood Fast Facts
- Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.
- If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area and have a Federally backed mortgage, your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance. (To find your flood risk, fill out the Flood Risk Profile.)
- Just a few inches of floodwater can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
- Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 15 feet high.
- A car can be easily carried away by just 2 feet of rushing water.
- Hurricanes, winter storms and snowmelt are common (but often overlooked) causes of flooding.
- New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths.
- Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest. For a $50,000 loan at 4% interest, your monthly payment would be around $240 a month ($2,880 a year) for 30 years. Compare that to a $100,000 flood insurance premium, which is about $400 a year ($33 a month).
- A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low price.
- You are eligible to purchase flood insurance as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Check the Community Status Book to see if your community is already an NFIP partner.
- In most cases, it takes 30 days after purchase for a policy to take effect, so it’s important to buy insurance before the storm approaches and the floodwaters start to rise.
- In a high-risk area, your home is more likely to be damaged by flood than by fire.
- Even though flood insurance isn’t federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file more than 20 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal disaster assistance for flooding.
- From 2006 to 2015, total flood insurance claims averaged $1.9 billion per year.
- When your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), you can qualify for an insurance premium reduction discount of up to 45 percent if you live in a high-risk area and up to 10 percent in moderate- to low-risk areas.
- Since 1978, the NFIP has paid nearly $52 billion for flood insurance claims and related costs. (Data as of 2/25/16.)
- There are currently more than 5.1 million Policies in Force across more than 22,000 communities in the United States.
- The two most common reimbursement methods for flood claims are: Replacement Cost Value (RCV) and Actual Cash Value (ACV). The RCV is the cost to replace damaged property. It is reimbursable to owners of single-family, primary residences insured to at least 80% of the building’s replacement cost.
For more policy and claim statistics, visit the National Flood Insurance Program.
What if My House is Not in a Flood Zone?
- In the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods.
- Everyone lives in a flood zone. (For more information, visit our Flood Zones FAQs.)
- Flood insurance isn’t federally required in moderate- to low-risk areas, but it’s still a good idea. In fact, people in these areas file more than 20 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance claims.
- Most homeowners in moderate- to low-risk areas can get coverage at a reduced rate.
- Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) premiums, the lowest premiums available through the NFIP, offer building and contents coverage for one low price. If you don’t qualify for a PRP, a standard-rated policy is still available.
- Don’t risk it!
How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?
Flood Insurance Premiums
Premiums are calculated based on factors such as:
- Year of building construction.
- Building occupancy.
- Number of floors.
- Location of its contents.
- Flood risk (e.g., its flood zone).
- Location of the lowest floor in relation to the Base Flood Elevation on the flood map.
- Deductible and amount of building and contents coverage.
Learn your flood risk and find agents in your area by completing your One-Step Flood Risk Profile on this page.
Understanding Your Risk
(Special Flood Hazard Area or SFHA)
Moderate- to Low-Risk Areas
Undetermined Risk Areas
How Do I Obtain or Review the Flood Map for My Area and How Do I Read It?
The easiest way is to come on in and visit us in our office! We have an online calendar system for appointments and can even meet with you view video conference!
The most widely distributed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood map product is the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). A FIRM offers much useful information and represents the official depiction of flood hazards for a community.
On the FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC) you may research, view and download (free) the available inventory of effective NFIP products, including the FIRM, the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) Report that accompanies the FIRM and other mapping products. The “effective date” is the date on which the NFIP map for a community becomes effective and all sanctions of the NFIP apply. Therefore, an “effective FIRM” is the NFIP map issued by FEMA that is in effect as of the date shown in the title block of the map as “Effective Date,” “Revised” or “Map Revised.”
You can also create a customized FIRMette—a paper copy of a user-defined portion of an effective FIRM, produced and saved on your computer. The FIRMette is a full- scale section of a FIRM that you create and formatted to print on most home/ office printers. The FIRMette can be used to help determine the location of a property or structure relative to the Special Flood Hazard Area and includes title block, scale and north arrow. To learn more about FIRMettes and how to create one, view the How to Find Your FIRM and Make a FIRMette Tutorial.
You may also view copies of the effective FIRM and FIS report by visiting the Community Map Repository for your community, which is usually maintained by the community floodplain administrator or officials at the planning and zoning office.
Homeowners are urged to use the How to Read a FIRM Tutorial along with the FIRM for your property to assist you in determining the potential flood risk for your property and whether you should insure your home from flood loss, as well as the How to Read a FIS Tutorial to assist you in understanding the information presented in the FIS report.
What causes flooding?
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. And you don’t need to live on the coast to be at risk. Flash floods, inland flooding, and seasonal storms affect every region of the country, severely damaging homes and businesses.
Undergoing a Map Change
Flood risk can, and does, change over time. Flood risks change for many reasons: new development, changes in levee classification, and environmental changes, to name a few. As a result FEMA is updating flood hazard maps across the country. These new flood maps, also, known as Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs), show flood risk at a property-by-property level.
When new maps are issued, your risk may have changed as well along with your flood insurance requirements. If your property is mapped out of a high-risk area, your flood insurance costs will likely decrease. If you’ve been mapped into a high-risk area, you will be required to purchase flood insurance if your mortgage is through a federally regulated or insured lender. But you can save money with the Newly Mapped procedure and through a process known as grandfathering provided by the NFIP.
If you live near a levee, your flood risk may be higher than you thought. Hundreds of levees across the country no longer meet federal standards for protection, so when new maps are issued, these areas will be shown as high risk.
Know your area. Learn your flood risk and see when new flood maps will be available for your community.
Learn your risk, and find an agent, by taking Your Risk Profile.
What are Flood Maps
Flood maps, known officially as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), show areas of high and moderate to low flood risk. Communities 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 should pay for flood insurance.
Flood maps show areas of high, moderate, and low flood risk as a series of zones. High-risk zones, also known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), begin with the letters “A” or “V.” Moderate- to low-risk zones, known as Non-Special Flood Hazard Areas (NSFHAs), begin with the letters “X”, “B” or “C.” There are also areas where the flood hazard is undetermined, labeled as Zone D. Learn more about defining flood risks, the risks shown on coastal flood maps, or the risks associated with living behind Levees.
View your map now at FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center, or learn more about how flood maps affect your flood insurance rates.
How Do I Obtain a Copy of the Flood Elevation Certificate for My Property?
The Elevation Certificate is one way for a community to comply with the National Flood Insurance Program requirement that the community obtain the elevation of the lowest floor (including basement) of all new and substantially improved structures and maintain a record of such information. The Elevation Certificate also is required to properly rate certain structures for flood insurance premiums.
If an Elevation Certificate has been prepared for your property, you may be able to obtain it from the property developer or from community officials. Communities often require preparation of Elevation Certificates for properties as part of the permitting process. You can contact your local floodplain officials or the planning and zoning office to see if an Elevation Certificate already exists for your property.
Elevation Certificates must be prepared and certified by a Licensed Land Surveyor, Registered Professional Engineer or Registered Architect who is authorized by state or local law to certify elevation information. Community officials who are authorized by local law or ordinance to provide floodplain management information may also sign some sections of the certificate.
Map Changes and Flood Insurance
Flood risks change over time. When flood maps are updated, you might learn that your property‘s risk is higher or lower than before. This can affect flood insurance costs and lender requirements for insurance.
Where new maps show your property now to be at a high flood risk, most mortgage lenders will require flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has a cost-saving rating option to help reduce the financial impact. Where new maps show that your property is no longer at a high risk, flood insurance is no longer federally required by lenders; however, the risk is only reduced, not removed. The good news is that insurance rates will be lower. The maps are first issued in “preliminary” form for public viewing and then in final form 6 to 12 before they become effective. This gives you time to prepare for any change in risk and talk to your insurance agent to learn ways to save on flood insurance.
How Map Changes Affect Flood Insurance
|If Maps Show …||These Requirements, Options, and Savings Apply|
|Change from moderate to low flood risk (Zones B, C, or X) to high risk (Zones A, AE, AH, AO, V, or VE)||Flood insurance is mandatory. Flood insurance is federally required for most mortgage holders. Insurance costs may rise to reflect the true (or high) risk.
The Newly Mapped procedure can offer savings.
Policyholders not eligible for the Newly Mapped procedure may still benefit from the NFIP’s Grandfather Rule. Eligible policyholders can keep their prior zone or Base Flood Elevation for rating purposes after maps change. Grandfathering applies if the structure was built in compliance with an earlier map or the policyholder has maintained continuous flood coverage.
|Change from high flood risk (Zones A, AE, AH, AO, V, or VE) to moderate to low risk (Zone X or Shaded X)||Flood insurance is optional but still recommended. The risk is only reduced, not removed. You can still obtain flood insurance, and at a lower rate. Even though flood insurance isn’t federally required, everyone is financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file more than 20 percent of all NFIP flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal disaster assistance for flooding. When it’s available, disaster assistance is typically a loan that you must repay with interest.
Conversion offers savings. Your insurance agent can easily convert an existing policy to a lower-cost PRP if the building qualifies. Note that lenders always have the option to require flood insurance in these areas.
|Change from high flood risk (Zones A or AE) to higher flood risk (Zones V or VE), or increase in the Base Flood Elevation (BFE)||The NFIP’s Grandfather Rule allows policyholders who have built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction to lock in the earlier BFE or flood zone to calculate their insurance rate in the future. This option could result in significant savings.|
|No change in risk level||No change in insurance rates. However, this is a good time to review your coverage and ensure that your building and contents are adequately protected.|
Learn More about Ways to Save
Map Update Schedule
Can I Obtain Flood Insurance for My Business?
As a business owner, you know that protecting your building and your contents is vital to its survival. Your business is either in a high-risk or moderate- to low-risk area and insurance premiums vary accordingly.
Moderate- to Low-Risk
Most commercial buildings in a moderate- to low-risk area qualify for coverage at a preferred rate. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low price. You can also opt for Contents Only coverage, if you prefer. Commercial coverage gives you up to $500,000 of insurance to protect your building and up to $500,000 to protect its contents.
If you don’t qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy, a standard rated policy is still available. Even though flood insurance isn’t federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file more than 20 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal disaster assistance for flooding. When it’s available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest.
If you live in a high-risk area, a standard rated policy is the only option for you. It offers separate building and contents coverage.
Flood insurance premiums are calculated based on factors such as:
- Year of building construction
- Building occupancy
- Number of floors
- The location of its contents
- Its flood risk (i.e. its flood zone)
- The location of the lowest floor in relation to the elevation requirement on the flood map (in newer buildings only)
- The deductible you choose and the amount of building and contents coverage
If your commercial property is in a high-risk flood area and you have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender, you are required to purchase a flood insurance policy.
Learn your risk, estimate your premium and find an agent, by taking Your Risk Profile.
Who Can I Contact for Additional Assistance?
Contact The Insurance Teacher at:
For more additional information or assistance pertaining to flood hazard mapping or floodplain management topics, contact a Map Specialist at the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) through the following channels:
- Call (1-877) FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Monday through Friday, 8:00 am through 6:30 pm Eastern Time (ET)
- Email FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com
- Chat with a Map Specialist
You may also contact your local map repository, an office that keeps the FEMA maps for public reference and use. This office is usually in your local planning, engineering or public works department.