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Flood Insurance

Basic Information for Homeowners, Businesses, & Renters

Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968 to alleviate the financial burden caused by flooding across the United States. The NFIP is administered nationally by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and enables homeowners, business owners and renters in participating communities to purchase federally-backed flood insurance as protection again flood loss. 

Federal disaster assistance does not become available unless a flood event is declared to be a major disaster by the President.  (Most forms of federal disaster assistance are loans which must be paid back with interest.)  Since most homeowners' insurance policies do not usually cover flood damage, acquiring and maintaining flood insurance coverage is a practical alternative to help citizens recover from flood losses.  The NFIP makes flood insurance available to property owners, renters and businesses in high, moderate, and low flood risk areas.  Anyone that has sustained flood damage who has flood insurance coverage can make a claim on their policy regardless of a federal disaster declaration and will be able to recover faster when floodwaters recede. 

Homes and businesses in high-risk flood areas (known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA)) with mortgages from government-backed lenders are required to have flood insurance. 

Does my community participate in the NFIP? 

To see if your community participates in the NFIP,  visit FEMA’s Community Status Book    

Who is eligible to purchase flood insurance?

ANYONE residing in a participating community can purchase flood insurance.  It is available to all residents, business owners and renters in both high risk and moderate to low risk areas.

How can I purchase flood insurance?

Flood insurance can be purchased through a licensed insurance agent or an insurer participating in the NFIP. It cannot be purchased directly from the NFIP. If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Referral Call Center at 1-800-427-4661 to request an agent referral.

For more detailed information on flood insurance and the NFIP, visit: www.floodsmart.gov

Grandfather Rules

When FEMA issues a new map to a community, many citizens question how the map changes affect them. In order to recognize policyholders who have maintained continuous flood insurance coverage and/or who have built-in compliance with the prior FIRM, the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration instituted grandfather rules. Listed below are the rules as they pertain to Pre-FIRM and Post-FIRM structures taken from FEMA's "NFIP Map & Zone Grandfather Rules."

Pre-FIRM (construction prior to the date of the community's initial FIRM)

  1. If a policy was obtained prior to the effective date of a map change, the policyholder is eligible to maintain the premium from the prior zone and base flood elevation as long as continuous coverage is maintained. The policy can be assigned to a new owner at the option of the policyholder.
  2. If a building is Pre-FIRM and a policy was not obtained prior to the effective date of a map change, the applicant is always eligible to receive the Pre-FIRM subsidized rates based on the new map.

Post-FIRM (construction on or after the date of the community's initial FIRM)

  1. If a policy was obtained prior to the effective date of a map change, the policyholder is eligible to maintain the prior zone and base flood elevation as long as continuous coverage is maintained. The policy can be assigned to a new owner at the option of the policyholder.
  2. If a building was constructed in compliance with a specific FIRM, the owner is always eligible to obtain a policy using the zone and base flood elevation from that FIRM provided that proof is submitted to the insurance company. If the structure was located in flood zone B, C, or X at the original time of construction, proof should include either the FIRM used at the date of construction or a letter from a community official stating the structure was built in compliance with the local flood damage reduction regulations. If the structure was not located in flood zone B, C, or X at the original time of construction and it was built in compliance, proof should include an Elevation Certificate, the FIRM showing the old base flood elevation, or a letter from the community verifying compliance. Continuous coverage is not required.

Newly Mapped Procedure

Another rating option to help ease the financial impact of a map change is the Newly Mapped Procedure.  To use this option, a property owner must purchase a policy that becomes effective within 12 months of the map change.  The initial rate will be equal to the Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) rate, but with a higher Reserve Fund Assessment and Federal Policy Fee. At each renewal, the policy will be rated using a multiplier provided by FEMA, which will change yearly on January 1.   Ultimately, the premium rates will transition to full-risk rates through annual rate increases of up to 18 percent.  Policyholders also have the option of providing additional rating information to compare with full-risk pricing using the current map information for rating. In many cases, an Elevation Certificate is required to determine the full-risk pricing using the current map information.