- Flood Insurance
Flood plains and zones are geographic areas that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has defined as subject to flooding. Each zone reflects the risk and severity or type of flooding in the area.
What FEMA calls the “100 year Floodplain” is defined as an area with a 1% (or 1 in 100) chance of flooding annually. The “500 year Floodplain” is defined as an area with a .2% (or 1 in 500) chance of flooding annually.
So a property in the “100 year Floodplain” has a 1 in a hundred chance of being flooded in any given year – not a once in 100 years chance of being flooded as implied by the confusing moniker “100 year Floodplain”. A property in a “100 year Floodplain” has a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30 year mortgage. Of course, the closer the property is located to a flooding source within the flood plain, the greater the chance of being flooded. FEMA breaks down the areas within the floodplains into zones to further define the likelihood and depth of flooding for flood insurance purposes.
Likewise, a property in the “500 year Floodplain” has a 0.2 in 500 chance of being flooded in any year, with a 6% chance of flooding over the life of a 30 year mortgage.
FEMA maps out flood plains and zones to create Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS) for flood insurance purposes. To find where your property is located on a FIRM, visit https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home .
Since regular homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover damage related to flooding, property owners in a floodplain should purchase a flood insurance rider (those with a federally-funded mortgage are required to do so). FEMA provides flood insurance policies through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and only those with NFIP insurance are eligible for FEMA grants for home elevations, buyouts, or mitigation measures. Information on FEMA’s NFIP can be found at https://www.floodsmart.gov/ .
If you are a FEMA NFIP flood insured and have just experienced flooding, find information to start your claim process at https://www.floodsmart.gov/how-do-i-start-my-flood-claim .