Frequently Asked Questions
I've been informed that my property is in a Special Flood Hazard Area; what does this mean?
A Special Flood Hazard Area is an area that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has deemed susceptible to inundation by a flood having a one-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Federal law requires that structures located within such an area be insured against flood damage when the structure is used as collateral for a federally insured or regulated loan.
I wasn't required to have flood insurance before; why all of a sudden now?
If your lender just informed you that flood insurance will now be mandatory when it hadn't been previously, it's probably because your community's flood map was recently updated. Federal law requires FEMA to examine a community's risk of flooding every five years and to update flood maps accordingly. The law also requires federally regulated lenders to monitor changes to flood maps and to ensure that structures are properly insured. FEMA is currently in the process of converting all of the National Flood Insurance Program maps to a digital format. The new digital maps are significantly more detailed than the previous paper maps. As a consequence, many more properties are being identified as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
Why am I being asked to purchase flood insurance while my neighbor is not?
Your neighbor's house might actually be outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area; if it isn't, then...
- Your neighbor may not have a federally insured mortgage; or
- Your neighbor's federally insured mortgage was obtained prior to 1986 and its terms haven't been modified since (insurance would be required if it were refinanced); or
- Your neighbor's lender may have simply overlooked the property's flood risk status.
How can I remove my home from a Special Flood Hazard Area?
- First determine if your home is actually shown in a Special Flood Hazard Area. Lenders will sometimes inform property owners of a need for flood insurance when only a portion of their parcel is shown in a Special Flood Hazard Area. However, the Federal requirement for insurance does not apply to parcels, it only applies to structures. Therefore, if the Special Flood Hazard Area includes a portion of your parcel, but does not include any part of your home, then dispute the need for insurance with your lender. To do so, a guaranteed Flood Zone Determination supporting your argument may be necessary.
- If any portion of your dwelling is shown within a Special Flood Hazard Area, then you must determine if your home sits higher than the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). If it does, then seek a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from FEMA.
- If a portion of your home is shown within a Special Flood Hazard Area and you have determined that the lowest grade adjacent to your structure is not higher than the BFE for your location, then you have to prove that the study on which the Special Flood Hazard Area was derived is otherwise incorrect.
- Propose, promote, and support responsible flood control efforts within your drainage area.
If a property qualifies for a Letter of Map Change (LOMC), how soon can it be obtained?
It depends on the LOMC type and the flood zone type. A Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) can be acquired in as little as one day for a single structure/property located in an AE, AH or A1-A30 flood zone. All others can take up to two months.
I purchased the required flood insurance, but have since qualified for, and received, an LOMC. What do I do now?
Notify your lender(s) that you have received a Letter of Map Change. The lender(s) will request a copy. Once satisfied that NFIP requirements have been met, the lender(s) should provide you with notice that you are no longer required to maintain flood insurance. Provide a copy of the LOMC and the lender(s) documentation to your insurance agent to modify or cancel your flood insurance policy. If your policy was issued through the National Flood Insurance Program, you are entitled to a refund by Federal Law.
What if a property does not qualify for a LOMC, what then?
A property that does not qualify for a LOMC might qualify for a reduced flood insurance rate.