Many people misunderstand the coverage they have with their standard homeowner insurance policy and the need for additional flood insurance underwritten by the US government. FEMA was created by the Flood Protection Disaster Act of 1968 to regulate construction in coastal areas and flood plains. FEMA analyzed the flood prone areas of the nation and in 1970’s issued maps that delineated areas that have varying risk and probability of flooding.
X – Areas with this designation are considered to be in the lowest risk areas. This does not mean that they will not flood, it means that there is a low probability.
B – 500 year flood plain. The mathematical probability of a property experiencing flooding in this area is 1 in 500.
A – 100 year flood plain. The mathematical probability of a property experiencing flooding in this area is 1 in 100.
V – Velocity Zone. This area is near the coastline and rivers, bays, coves, estuaries and any such area. These areas have the highest probability of flooding.
FEMA produces flood maps which are used by mortgage companies to determine whether a property is located in a flood risk area. If so, most mortgage companies require flood insurance. FEMA continues to update flood zone maps and an area that is not currently in such a zone could be reassigned if determined by FEMA.
For more info, visit the FEMA flood hazard website page: https://www.fema.gov/view-your-communitys-preliminary-flood-hazard-data
FEMA instructs the local zoning boards in the formation of building codes that meet FEEMA Standards. In order to qualify for flood insurance underwritten by the US Federal Government, local zoning must meet FEMA minimum standards, however, local governments may choose to impose higher standards. Part of the standards include a minimum “elevation” of hight above sea level for the lowest inhabited floor of a home. When purchasing a home, buyers should ask if the seller has a current Elevation Certificate to determine the base level of construction a so they can obtain insurance. Without an EC, insurance will be extremely expensive if obtainable at all.
Some properties, especially those constructed prior to FEMA standards (1975 at this writing) may be “grandfathered”. Check with your insurance agent to be sure. Some people believe that the X zone can never flood. This is wrong. It is only in an area with a low probability. Flood insurance in an X zone will be quite reasonable and affordable and one should consider this when purchasing insurance for their most important investment. If a tropical storm causes water damage, there is a very good chance that insurance companies will consider it flood damage and it will not be covered.