Flood Insurance Rate Maps

What are Flood Zones

Flood zones can be defined as an area’s likelihood of experiencing a flood. Areas that do not regularly suffer from heavy rainfall are considered low risk. High-risk flood zones in low-lying areas generally have a minimum of a one in four chance of experiencing a flood during a thirty-year mortgage term. Flood insurance rates in this area range between six and ten percent above the national average. Flood Insurance Rate Maps are designed to help property owners and renters understand the likely costs associated with flood insurance coverage when purchasing a home or renter’s policy. Flood Insurance Rate Maps are available online and in print form from many insurance providers.

Areas located in higher-risk flood zones are typically expected to experience more flooding than areas located lower-risk zones . The maps are used to determine whether or not a development should be placed in a certain area, as well as the type and size of structures that can be built. These maps are often used before a zoning or building committee is selected and are available for download from the county’s public libraries.  These maps are also great to look at during a home inspection.

FEMA and Other Agencies

The information on each of the county’s flood maps is compiled into a common system that the various jurisdictions share. Every property owner’s water risk assessment is determined according to the terrain characteristics, demographic data, and flood history for each property in the area. As a result, the different water risks are balanced out between jurisdictions, reducing the overall impact on individual property owners and minimize the amount of property insurance that needs to be purchased. Local governments and residents are also urged to review the current flood zone map and FEMA’s previous flood maps to better understand their overall flood risk and how to best address it.

Flood zone ratings provide a basis for local governments and residents to assess their property’s flood risk. This information allows them to properly plan and prepare for any potential flooding events. FEMA and other federal agencies continue to monitor the progress of flood insurance rate maps to assist communities in preparing for and reducing the effects of floods. While it can be difficult to understand, even those who live in an area not expected to experience flooding every now and then should pay attention to the base flood maps provided by FEMA for future planning and protection.

Flood Zone Classifications

Flood zones are a classification system used to determine the risk of loss of property and serious property damage from flooding. The zone that is used is determined by taking an elevation reading of the soil above the ground level. This reading is called the elevations of surface water that can result from various sources such as a standing water body like a pond, river, or lake, or even a volcano. It is determined by consulting a United States Federal Water Administration map.

The High-Risk Flood Zones are areas in the United States where there is a threat of catastrophic flooding. The A zone is a very high-risk flood zone, which means that property in that zone will most likely need to be insured. Another important element in deciding what is considered a high-risk flood zone is the presence of underground storage tanks that could cause catastrophic flooding. Base Flood Elevation (BBE) is another element that is used in the National Flood Program.

In most areas, base flood elevations are determined using elevation readings taken by satellites. However, when it comes to minimum flood hazard areas, a local water control authority may use a different method. In these cases, the system is divided into three parts, including a rapid water drainage system, a rapid water release system, and a rapid water transfer system. The first two systems work to reduce the risks of flooding while the last system, the rapid water transfer system, serves to reduce the risks of loss of property caused by floods. As you can see, the system that is used to determine flood zones is very complicated.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps

Flood Insurance Rate Maps are based on several factors. These factors include flood history, the likelihood of flooding, local conditions and materials used to build the home or building, current weather conditions in the flood zone, and construction techniques used to build the home or building. Flood Insurance Rate Maps are updated frequently based on current information regarding flooding prone areas and can be found online at your local insurance agent’s office or through insurance industry websites such as those provided by The Insurance Information Institute (IIT). The cost of flood insurance can also vary from one provider to another.

An example of a physical flood hazard area is a flood plain, cattail bed, or marsh. Any physical flood hazard area will be considered a Special Flood Hazard Area and will likely cause higher than normal flood insurance rates for home and property owners. Flood Insurance Rate Maps clearly outlines the type of risks an area is expected to pose to residents and highlight areas that are more prone to flooding. Examining a flood insurance rate map will allow a property owner or someone buying a home to determine the likely costs associated with flood insurance based on surrounding circumstances and past flood history.