FEMA Elevation Certificates: Get When Buying Flood Insurance
Flooding is one of the costliest disasters in the United States, which is why homeowners need flood insurance. However, you should know that FEMA Elevation Certificates are needed when you buy flood insurance and here is why. Insurance claims have averaged almost $2 billion per year from the years 2006 until 2015 when the last statistics were posted. And from 1980 up until 2013, the average cost was over $260 billion in damages.
Who Needs One?
Those who live in a high-risk area typically need an Elevation Certificate when applying for flood insurance. This is so that the premium for flood insurance can be determined properly. Even those in a flood zone who make changes to their home such as a garage to living space conversion or adding a room addition will need an Elevation Certificate so it is not solely for new homeowners.
What Does It Do?
An Elevation Certificate simply determines the elevation of your property. This is important when deciding your insurance premium because the elevation plays an important role in the likelihood of your property being prone to flooding.
How Does It Work?
According to FEMA, "Flood hazard areas identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). 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.
If your home falls into one of the high risk zones, the Elevation Certificate or EC determines things such as building characteristics, the location of the building, and the flood zone itself. This certificate is used in conjunction with what is called a BFE, which stands for Base Flood Elevation. The Base Flood Elevation works by estimating that there is a one percent chance (at least) that the floodwaters will reach or even exceed the area within a one-year period. For obvious reasons, the more risk you have, the higher the premium may be but the higher your lowest floor is above the Base Flood Elevation, the less the risk you have of flooding and the lower the insurance premium should be.
How Do You Get One?
To get a FEMA Elevation Certificate, there are a few options.
- The Builder or Developer. If the home is already constructed and in a high-risk area, an Elevation Certificate was needed and may be on file so you do not have to get a new one. However, the Elevation Certificate may not be up to date so you should seek out a qualified Land Surveyor.
- The Sellers. If you are buying your home from a seller, check to see if the Elevation Certificate was already granted. In cases where the buyer does not have one, you can always ask for it to be included in the sale. This is also a situation where the EC may not beup to date so please check with a qualified Land Surveyor if it is not.
- Land Surveyor. A Land Surveyor has the ability to supply you with an Elevation Certificate. Getting a qualified Land Surveyor is very importatnt since they will know proper procedures and most likely save you money on your flood policy. premiums.
About Adam Hoffman
Hoffman began his surveying career back in 1978 when he worked for his uncle, Bernard Godfrey. After graduating from Paul Smith’s College, he worked his way from rod-man to transit-man and eventually party-chief. In 1988 when Adam received his Land Surveying license, he and Mr. Godfrey formed Godfrey-Hoffman Associates. After 12 years of a great partnership, Mr. Godfrey retired which left Mr. Hoffman with the entire business.