Frequently Asked Questions

What factors determine flood insurance premiums?

A number of factors determine premiums for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insurance coverage. Major factors include the amount of coverage purchased; the deductible; and the location, age, occupancy and type of building to be insured. For newer buildings in floodplains, the elevation of the lowest floor relative to the elevation of the 1 percent annual chance flood can also be used to rate the policy.

My house is not in a floodplain according to the current map, but the new map will show it as being in a floodplain. Will I have to purchase flood insurance when the new map officially takes effect?

If you have federal or federally related financing for the property in question and you do not already have flood insurance, your lender may contact you once the new map takes effect and require that you purchase flood insurance. If you do not purchase the insurance within 45 days after being informed that flood insurance is required, the lender can force place the insurance and charge you the cost of it. If you dispute the lender’s determination that your property is located in a floodplain, you and your lender can jointly request a Letter of Determination Review from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within 45 days of being informed by your lender that your property is located in a floodplain. If you have insurance before the new map takes effect, the basis for rating that policy remains unchanged (i.e., you can use the rate that was charged to you when your property was located outside the floodplain).

I have flood insurance, and my house is in a floodplain according to the current map. The new map, however, will show my house as being outside the floodplain. Will I have to continue carrying flood insurance when the new map officially takes effect?

If you have federal or federally related financing for the property in question, you will no longer have a federal requirement to purchase flood insurance when the new maps take effect; however, lenders retain the prerogative to require flood insurance, even for property that is not in a floodplain. If you wish to continue coverage once the new maps take effect, you may be eligible for preferred risk rates based on your property being outside the floodplain. You should have your policy re-rated using the new maps, which should lower your premium. Even if you are not required to purchase flood insurance, we encourage homeowners to continue coverage at the preferred risk rates, because you may be flooded by an event greater than the 1 percent annual chance event.

My house was built to the flood elevation shown on the current map (or a previous map). On the new map, my house will remain in the floodplain, but the flood elevation will increase. What will happen to my insurance premium when the new map officially takes effect?

If you can show that your house was built in compliance with local floodplain management regulations and the flood map in effect at the time of construction, the basis for rating your policy does not change, and your premium will be the same. If you cannot show that your house was built in compliance at the time of construction, your policy will be re-rated using the new flood map, which may raise your premium. However, if you can show that your home has been continuously insured since before the map change, your premium will not be affected. If you do not have federal or federally related financing, you are not required by federal regulations to have flood insurance, although it is available to you.

My house was built to the flood elevation shown on the current map (or a previous map). On the new map, my house will remain in the floodplain, but the elevation will decrease. What will happen to my insurance premium when the new map officially takes effect?

You should contact your insurance agent to ensure that the policy is re-rated when the new map officially takes effect. The lower flood elevation may result in a lower premium.

My house was built in Zone AE to the flood elevation in effect at the time of construction. On the new map, my house will remain in the floodplain, but the zone designation will be changed to Zone VE. What will happen to my insurance premium when the new map officially takes effect?

If you can show that your house was built in compliance with local floodplain management regulations and the flood map in effect at the time of construction, the basis for rating your policy does not change and your premium will be the same when the new map officially takes effect. If you cannot show that your house was built in compliance at the time of construction, your policy will be re-rated when the new map takes effect using the new flood zone designation and flood elevations, which may raise your premium. However, if you can show that your home has been continuously insured since before the map change, your premium will not be affected.

My house is shown as being in Zone VE on the current map. On the new map, my house will remain in the floodplain, but the zone designation will be changed to Zone AE. What will happen to my insurance premium when the new map officially takes effect?

You should contact your insurance agent to ensure the policy is re-rated when the new map officially takes effect. The change to a Zone AE designation will likely lower your premium.

My house is in a floodplain according to the current map. On the new map, my house will remain in the floodplain, but the flood elevation will be increased. Will my house be considered to be in violation of NFIP regulations when the new map officially takes effect?

Any house that can be shown to have been built in compliance with local floodplain-management regulations and the flood map at the time of construction will continue to be considered compliant, even if the new maps will show an increase in flood elevation or a change to a more restrictive zone designation. However, should your house be substantially damaged (damage of 50 percent or more of the pre-damage market value) and you wish to repair it, you will be required to bring the entire structure into compliance with the zone designation and flood elevations in effect at the time the repairs take place. If the structure is less than substantially damaged, you do not need to refer to the flood map when repairing damages. Please note, however, that there may be more stringent local requirements that take precedence over those stated here. Regardless of whether your building is substantially damaged, you will likely need a building permit to make repairs and need to contact your local building official.

My house is in a floodplain. What do I do if I want to build an addition or otherwise improve it?

If the value of the addition of improvements to the house is less than 50 percent of the market value of the existing structure, you need only make sure that the improvement meets or exceeds the standards that were used in constructing the existing structure (assuming the existing structure was built in compliance at the time it was constructed). Additions or other improvements valued at 50 percent or more of the market value of the existing structure are considered substantial improvements. In such cases, the entire structure must be brought into compliance with the elevations on the map in effect at the time the improvement begins. Under certain circumstances only the addition needs to be elevated to the flood elevations shown on that map. Please note, however, there may be more stringent local requirements that take precedence over those stated here. Regardless of whether your building is substantially improved, you will likely need a building permit to make the improvement and need to contact your local building official.

My lending institution said I’m in the floodplain and they require flood insurance on my loan/mortgage. I don’t believe I’m in a flood zone. What can I do?

All federally regulated lending institutions must review the community Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) to determine if your structure is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). If such a determination is made, it must require the borrower to purchase flood insurance. These determinations are based on in/out (horizontal) and do not involve the vertical elevation of the structure. If you disagree, you may request that FEMA review the lender’s determination. FEMA will review the information that the institution used and issue a letter of findings. Your request (FEMA Standard Flood Hazard Determination) must be postmarked no later than 45 days after the lender notifies you of its determination. FEMA’s responses to these requests are called LODRs and offer two basic dispositions: (1) the lender’s determination stands, or (2) it is overturned. FEMA’s response does not amend or revise the NFIP map for your community. Occasionally, a lending institution may require insurance if it determines that a part of your lot is in the SFHA. The NFIP does not insure land. However, even if you submit evidence that your building is out of the floodplain, the lender may still decide to require flood insurance on your building.

Where can I buy flood insurance?

You may purchase flood insurance from the same agency that carries your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance or directly from the federal government. To get the name of an agent in your community, call the NFIP’s toll free number at 1-888-FLOOD29.

Where can I view the flood map for my property?

Your local floodplain manager has copies of the appropriate FIRM and MEMA maintains a copy in its office. You can also access the online FEMA Flood Map Store. You may also order a map by calling FEMA’s Map Service Center at 1-800-358-9616.

Who can I call for specific questions concerning the NFIP?

For general information, call 1-800-427-4661. To order any current FEMA publications, call 1-800-480-2520. For lender questions on flood policy coverage and rates, call 1-800-611-6125. For insurance agent questions on policy coverage and rates, call 1-800-720-1093.

Why do I need to complete an elevation certificate in order to build or place my home in a flood zone?

If you are building in the floodplain, you will be given an elevation certificate to complete and return. This form is important! It proves that you built correctly, and it is used to determine your compliance with your community’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance. Additionally, this form is used to set your flood insurance premium.

My LOMA/LOMR-F was invalidated by the new FIRM, what do I do to reinstate it?

You will need to submit the following:

  • Submit a written request asking for re-issuance of the LOMA/LOMR-F.
  • A copy of the original LOMA/LOMR-F letter.
  • A copy of the new effective FIRM panel, marked to indicate the location of the property in question.
These documents should be mailed to:

LOMA Depot
PO Box 2210
Merrifield, VA 22116-2210