FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map

Everything You Should Know about the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map

Over the past 20 years, flooding has caused damage of $662 billion in the United States alone. Experts report that floods kill more people every year than windstorms, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes. So what is it about floods that makes them so deadly? Flash flooding can happen in the blink of an eye. It catches bystanders by surprise, and a small puddle quickly becomes a rushing current. For those caught in the path of the surge, a flood can quickly become fatal. That’s why the FEMA flood insurance rate map was created. This critical tool can help you know if your home is at risk and find out the best ways to minimize the threat to your safety.

What Is the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map?

FEMA created the flood insurance rate map as an official guide for homeowners nationwide to learn about their risks for localized flooding. Working in conjunction with the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA officials have created a way for communities to become educated about risks before flooding occurs, so they can assess their situation and plan accordingly. Mapping areas prone to flooding is important because it helps officials determine appropriate requirements for flood insurance in high-risk areas. The nationwide map is regularly updated based on the most recently collected data on storm tides, river flow, rainfall, and land surveys.

  • Flood insurance rate maps published: almost 100,000
  • Participating mapped communities: 22,120
  • Non-participating mapped communities: 2,103

How Does FEMA Determine a Community’s Risk Level?

The process of evaluating local flood risk is complex and requires consideration of several key factors. Officials study storm surges, special hazards, low-lying topography, and annual rainfall to determine which communities face the most worrisome risks. To make things even more complicated, the maps require constant updates thanks to erosion and evolving weather patterns. To simplify things, FEMA designates a risk level for each community.

  • High-risk flood areas: FEMA assigns the letters “A” or “V” to high risk zones. If you live in one of these areas, there is a 1 in 4 chance that your home will encounter flooding within the lifetime of a 30-year mortgage. Federal law requires all homes and businesses in high-risk areas to have flood insurance. 
  • Mild to moderate risk areas: FEMA assigns the letters “B,” “C,” or “X” to areas with mild to moderate flood risks. If you live in an area classified in this group, it simply means that you have a lower threat of flooding, but you aren’t completely immune from occasional flood-related disasters. While flood insurance isn’t required for homeowners and business owners in these regions, it is highly recommended by FEMA.
  • Unknown risk areas: FEMA is still working to fully gauge flood risk nationwide, but some areas are still considered undetermined on the FEMA flood insurance rate map. These regions are assigned the letter “D.” In these areas of unknown risk, flood insurance premiums can vary dramatically because no one is completely sure whether the region will eventually be designated a high-risk zone or low-risk zone.

How to Find Your Flood Zone Designation

If you are unsure about the risk level in your community, you can access the FEMA flood insurance rate map online. You can do a search by physical address to see where your home or business falls on the flood hazard risk scale. FEMA offers this as a free tool for all homeowners so they can have full disclosure of risks and prepare accordingly.

Can You Change Your Flood Zone Designation?

If your property is located in an area currently labeled as a high-risk flood hazard zone and you believe this designation is incorrect, you can submit a request for review to FEMA online. While the process of reevaluation can be lengthy, you could enjoy much lower rates on flood insurance if your request for a change is granted.

Know Your Risk and Be Prepared

By studying the FEMA flood insurance rate map, you are taking the first step toward being prepared in case of a disaster. Living or working in a high-risk flood zone isn’t the end of the world, but it does mean that you can’t afford to ignore this potential danger. If you’re aware of the higher threat of flooding, you can be more vigilant about rising water levels, incoming storm systems, and dangerous erosion patterns.

You can be proactive and take steps to protect your property and your family members by creating an emergency flood plan. You can study evacuation routes in advance so that you know where to go if you ever do find yourself in the midst of a worst-case flooding scenario.

Finally, knowing your risk means you can safeguard your investment as a property owner by purchasing adequate flood insurance. When you know that you are likely to face a major flood at some point in the future, you can choose a reliable flood insurance policy that offers maximum protection for your property, whether it is residential or commercial.

What Does Flood Insurance Cover?

Flood insurance policies can vary depending on where you live and the level of risk to your property as determined by the FEMA flood map. Generally, flood insurance covers both the structure of your home and the possessions inside. If your home needs serious repairs, you can file a claim and the flood insurance provider will foot the bill up to your coverage limit.

In extreme cases where a home is completely destroyed, flood insurance pays for replacing the home and all of your possessions that were lost due to water damage. In some cases, a flood insurance policy will cover the cost of precautionary measures like sandbags to protect your home from water damage when a flood is imminent. However, this can vary depending on your location and coverage limits, so do your homework in advance to have a complete understanding of what is covered by your personal policy.

Find the Best Flood Insurance for Your Home

If you are searching for a reliable flood insurance policy to safeguard your property, Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents can help. Our agents take the guesswork out of shopping for flood insurance, offering customized rate quotes and one-on-one support as you consider all of the risks to your property as portrayed on the FEMA flood insurance rate map. You never know when a catastrophic flood could impact your area, so take time to prepare by contacting a Trusted Choice independent insurance agent today.

Now, who's ready to get their insurance problems solved?