Nation Flood Insurance Program
Background on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
The NFIP is a Federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding. This insurance is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. Participation in the NFIP is based on an agreement between local communities and the Federal Government that states if a community will adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance to reduce future flood risks to new construction in Special Flood Hazard Areas, the Federal Government will make flood insurance available within the community as a financial protection against flood losses.
For decades, the national response to flood disasters was generally limited to constructing flood-control works such as dams, levees, seawalls, and the like, and providing disaster relief to flood victims. This approach did not reduce losses, nor did it discourage unwise development. In some instances, it may have actually encouraged additional questionable development. To compound the problem, the public generally could not buy flood coverage from insurance companies, and building techniques to reduce flood damage were often overlooked. In the face of mounting flood losses and escalating costs of disaster relief to the general taxpayers, the U.S. Congress created the NFIP. The intent was to reduce future flood damage through community floodplain management ordinances, and provide protection for property owners against potential losses through an insurance mechanism that requires a premium to be paid for the protection.
The U.S. Congress established the NFIP on August 1, 1968, with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP was broadened and modified with the passage of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and other legislative measures. It was further modified by the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 and the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004. The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
What Is The Write Your Own (WYO) Program?
The Write Your Own (WYO) Program began in 1983 and is a cooperative undertaking of the insurance industry and FEMA. The WYO Program allows participating property and casualty insurance companies to write and service the Standard Flood Insurance Policy in their own names. The WYO Program operates as part of the NFIP, and is subject to its rules and regulations.
The goals of the WYO Program are:
Increase the NFIP policy base and the geographic distribution of policies;
Improve service to NFIP policyholders through the infusion of insurance industry knowledge;
Provide the insurance industry with direct operating experience with flood insurance
Who needs flood insurance? Everyone. And everyone in a participating community of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can buy flood insurance. Nationwide, almost 20,000 communities have joined the Program.
Top Ten Facts… every consumer needs to know about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
MYTH: You can’t buy flood insurance if you are located in a high-flood-risk area.
FACT: You can buy National Flood Insurance no matter where you live if your community participates in the NFIP, except in Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) areas. The Program was created in 1968 to make federally backed flood insurance available to property owners who live in eligible communities. Flood insurance was then virtually unavailable from the private insurance industry. The Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, as amended, requires federally regulated lending institutions to make sure that mortgage loans secured by buildings in high-flood-risk areas are protected by flood insurance. Lenders should notify borrowers, prior to closing, that their property is located in a high-flood-risk area and that National Flood Insurance is required.
MYTH: You can’t buy flood insurance immediately before or during a flood.
FACT: You can purchase National Flood Insurance at any time. There is usually a 30-day waiting period after premium payment before the policy is effective, with the following exceptions:
FACT: Unfortunately, many home and business owners do not find out until it is too late that their homeowners and business multiperil policies do not cover flooding. The NFIP offers a separate policy that protects the single most important financial asset, which for most people is their home or business. Homeowners can include contents coverage in their NFIP policy. Residential and commercial renters can purchase contents coverage. Business owners can purchase flood insurance coverage for their buildings and contents/inventory and, by doing so, protect their livelihood.
MYTH: Flood insurance is only available for homeowners.
FACT: Most people who live in NFIP participating communities, including renters and condo unit owners, are eligible to purchase federally backed flood insurance. A maximum of $250,000 of building coverage is available for single-family residential buildings; $250,000 per unit for residential condominiums. The limit for contents coverage on all residential buildings is $100,000, which is also available to renters. Commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the building and $500,000 for the contents. The maximum insurance limit may not exceed the insurable value of the property.
MYTH: You can’t buy flood insurance if your property has been flooded.
FACT: You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance after your home, apartment, or business has been flooded, provided that your community is participating in the NFIP.
MYTH: Only residents of high-flood-risk areas need to insure their property.
FACT: All areas are susceptible to flooding, although to varying degrees. If you live in a low-to-moderate flood risk area, it is advisable to have flood insurance. Between 20 and 25 percent of the NFIP’s claims come from outside high-flood-risk areas. Residential and commercial property owners located in low-to-moderate risk areas should ask their agents if they are eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy, which provides very inexpensive flood insurance protection.
MYTH: National Flood Insurance can only be purchased through the NFIP directly.
FACT: NFIP flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and agents, and is backed by the federal government.
MYTH: The NFIP does not offer any type of basement coverage.
FACT: Yes it does. The NFIP defines a basement as any area of a building with a floor that is below ground level on all sides. While flood insurance does not cover basement improvements (such as finished walls, floors, or ceilings), or personal belongings kept in a basement (such as furniture and other contents), it does cover structural elements and essential equipment.
The following items are covered under building coverage, as long as they are connected to a power source, if required, and installed in their functioning location:
The NFIP recommends both building and contents coverage for the broadest protection.
MYTH: The NFIP encourages coastal development.
FACT: One of the NFIP’s primary objectives is to guide development away from high-flood-risk areas. NFIP regulations minimize the impact of structures that are built in SFHAs by requiring them not to cause obstructions to the natural flow of floodwaters. Also, as a condition of community participation in the NFIP, those structures built within SFHAs must adhere to strict floodplain management regulations enforced by the community. In addition, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 relies on the NFIP to discourage building in fragile coastal areas by prohibiting the sale of flood insurance in designated CBRA areas. While the NFIP does not prohibit property owners from building in these areas, any Federal financial assistance, including federally backed flood insurance, is prohibited. However, the CBRA does not prohibit privately financed development or insurance.
MYTH: Federal disaster assistance will pay for flood damage.
FACT: Before a community is eligible for disaster assistance, it must be declared a federal disaster area. Federal disaster assistance declarations are issued in less than 50 percent of flooding events. The premium for an NFIP policy, averaging a little over $400 a year, can be less expensive than the monthly payments on a federal disaster loan. Furthermore, if you are uninsured and receive federal disaster assistance after a flood, you must purchase flood insurance to remain eligible for future disaster relief.
FLOOD ZONES EXPLAINED:
Zone–A geographical area shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map or a Flood Insurance Rate Map that reflects the severity or type of flooding in the area.
Flood hazard areas identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHA are defined as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The 1-percent annual chance flood is also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the FIRM, and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood. The areas of minimal flood hazard, which are the areas outside the SFHA and higher than the elevation of the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood, are labeled Zone C or Zone X (unshaded).
Zone A is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year floodplains that are determined in the Flood Insurance Study by approximate methods. Because detailed hydraulic analyses are not performed for such areas, no Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
Zone AE and A1-A30
Zones AE and A1-A30 are the flood insurance rate zones that correspond to the 100-year floodplains that are determined in the Flood Insurance Study by detailed methods. In most instances, Base Flood Elevations derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
Zone AH is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the areas of 100-year shallow flooding with a constant water-surface elevation (usually areas of ponding) where average depths are between 1 and 3 feet. The BFEs derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
Zone AO is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the areas of 100-year shallow flooding (usually sheet flow on sloping terrain) where average depths are between 1 and 3 feet. The depth should be averaged along the cross section and then along the direction of flow to determine the extent of the zone. Average flood depths derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown within this zone. In addition, alluvial fan flood hazards are shown as Zone AO on the FIRM. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
Zone AR is the flood insurance rate zone used to depict areas protected from flood hazards by flood control structures, such as a levee, that are being restored. FEMA will consider using the Zone AR designation for a community if the flood protection system has been deemed restorable by a Federal agency in consultation with a local project sponsor; a minimum level of flood protection is still provided to the community by the system; and restoration of the flood protection system is scheduled to begin within a designated time period and in accordance with a progress plan negotiated between the community and FEMA. Mandatory purchase requirements for flood insurance will apply in Zone AR, but the rate will not exceed the rate for unnumbered A zones if the structure is built in compliance with Zone AR floodplain management regulations.
For floodplain management in Zone AR areas, elevation is not required for improvements to existing structures. However, for new construction, the structure must be elevated (or floodproofed for non-residential structures) such that the lowest floor, including basement, is a maximum of 3 feet above the highest adjacent existing grade if the depth of the base flood elevation (BFE) does not exceed 5 feet at the proposed development site. For infill sites, rehabilitation of existing structures, or redevelopment of previously developed areas, there is a 3 foot elevation requirement regardless of the depth of the BFE at the project site.
The Zone AR designation will be removed and the restored flood control system shown as providing protection from the 1% annual chance flood on the NFIP map upon completion of the restoration project and submittal of all the necessary data to FEMA.
Zone A99 is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to areas of the 100-year floodplains that will be protected by a Federal flood protection system where construction has reached specified statutory milestones. No BFEs or depths are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
The Zone D designation on NFIP maps is used for areas where there are possible but undetermined flood hazards. In areas designated as Zone D, no analysis of flood hazards has been conducted. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements do not apply, but coverage is available. The flood insurance rates for properties in Zone D are commensurate with the uncertainty of the flood risk.
Zone V is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year coastal floodplains that have additional hazards associated with storm waves. Because approximate hydraulic analyses are performed for such areas, no BFEs are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
Zone VE is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year coastal floodplains that have additional hazards associated with storm waves. BFEs derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
Zones B, C, and X
Zones B, C, and X are the flood insurance rate zones that correspond to areas outside the 100-year floodplains, areas of 100-year sheet flow flooding where average depths are less than 1 foot, areas of 100-year stream flooding where the contributing drainage area is less than 1 square mile, or areas protected from the 100-year flood by levees. No BFEs or depths are shown within this zone.
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