What Is A Flood Insurance Elevation Certificate?

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Frequently Asked Questions about Elevation Certificates

What is an Elevation Certificate?

I'm purchasing a house in an area that is prone to rain and flooding.  When talking with my insurance company, I was told that flood insurance is not included in my homeowners policy. When I inquired about obtaining flood insurance, I was told that I need an Elevation Certificate before they'll provide me with flood insurance. What is that? 

An Elevation Certificate is a multi-page form that is completed by a licensed surveyor or engineer that determines the exact point at which your home or building is susceptible to flooding.

When you request a certificate, the surveyor comes to your home or building and notes the structure, size, construction restrictions, floors, and elevation of the lowest grade floor of the building. 

They then share this information with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)  and it is used to determine your insurance premium rate and/or ensure that your home or building is in compliance with local floodplain management ordinances. 

How do I get an Elevation Certificate?

I just purchased a home on the Truckee River in Reno, Nevada. A little research has shown that the Truckee River has flooded numerous times in the past and I’m thinking I’d rather be safe than sorry and will purchase flood insurance. My insurance company says they cannot provide me with flood insurance without an Elevation Certificate, what do I do next?

Obtaining an Elevation Certificate is a quick and painless process. You can start by asking your Trusted Choice insurance agent if they know of a surveyor that they’ve used and enjoyed in the past.

You can also find your own surveyor by doing a general search of surveyors in your local area. You don’t need any type of specialist to receive an Elevation Certificate. You’re simply asking for someone to come out and assess your home, as if you were doing an appraisal, and any surveyor who is familiar with these certificates should be able to take care of it for you in a timely manner. 

How much does an Elevation Certificate cost?

I’m looking to get an Elevation Certificate for my house that sits on the Florida coast. I know that flood damage is a high possibility and I’m wondering if my location will affect the cost of my certification.

On average, an Elevation Certificate costs $350. This price is not affected by your location, structure size, or its susceptibility to flooding. 

On average, it takes 2-3 hours for a surveyor to examine your home and complete the Elevation Certificate, and there are no additional fees that come with getting the certification done.

What is affected by your certificate is your flood insurance premium. Houses that are located in flood zones and are at high risk for flooding will have a higher flood insurance premium than those less at risk for flooding.

Does flood insurance require me to get an Elevation Certificate?

I’m buying a house that is located in a flood zone. The mortgage company has told me that they will not close my loan until I have flood insurance. Will I be required to get an Elevation Certificate in order to get flood insurance?

If you’re building or buying a home that is not located in a certified flood zone, but you’ve decided to get flood insurance as a safety precaution, you are not required to have an Elevation Certificate.  

There are three types of flood zones, designated Zone A, Zone V, and Zone X. Areas in Zone A  are located inland but still susceptible to flooding from heavy rains or rising creek waters. Areas in Zone V are on the coast and are susceptible to flooding from the ocean. Areas in Zone X are  not in a flood zone. Any structures located in Zone A or Zone V are required to get an Elevation Certificate. 

You can determine if your home is in a flood zone by doing a search on the FEMA website. I always like to note that the National Flood Insurance Program shows that 30% of flood claims happen in areas that are not flood zones. So just because you aren’t in a certified flood zone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider flood insurance. 

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin

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