The Thill-Demerly Agency has grown to become a local authority in the matter of Flood Insurance. We have partnered with the Lancaster Village Citizens Group on Flood Risk Remapping to help local property owners understand their flood insurance options. In the process, we have become very knowledgeable in the matter, and have the tools necessary to help you make the BEST DECISION POSSIBLE regarding Flood Insurance and your home!
"A general and temporary condition, of partial or complete inundation, of two or more acres of normally dry land area, or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder's property) from...unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source. Full definition
Did you know...
- Flood damage is not covered by Homeowners Insurance.
- 25% of all flood insurance losses are for properties that are outside of the high risk flood zone.
- Lenders may ask you to carry Flood Insurance, even though your property is not in a Special Flood Hazard Area, depending on your loan agreement.
- Since 2003, FEMA has been updating their flood maps as part of a nation-wide flood map modernization program. Determining flood risk is FEMA's responsibility.
- The federal banking laws are designed to protect taxpayers' interest in properties at risk of flooding.
Reasons Flood Insurance is required
1. If a STRUCTURE is in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), a Federally backed lender requires flood insurance. Flood zones beginning with the letter A and V are Special Flood Hazard Areas.
2. If you agree to carry flood insurance as a condition in your loan agreement, no matter which flood zone your structure is in.
3. When property owners receive financial assistance from the federal government following a Presidentially declared disaster, they may be required to purchase flood insurance coverage. See this pdf.
Learn the Names of Our Local Levels of Risk and the Different Local Flood Zones
- Flood zone A = "A" high risk = Special Flood Hazard Area = SFHA = 1% chance of flood= previously known as 100 year flood zone. Erie County NY’s flood map shows this area with light blue dots and a light blue outline. Flood insurance is required on a structure in a SFHA when there is a federally backed lender. All zones that begin with the letter A: AE, A1...A30, AO, etc.
- Coastal areas in the US have a Special Flood Hazard Area called flood zone V. (Think Velocity waves.) Zone V rates are even more expensive than zone A.
- Moderate risk = .2% chance of flood = previously known as 500 year flood zone. Flood zone B, C and X, usually eligible for the Preferred Risk Program. Erie County NY’s flood map shows this area with dark black dots and a dark black outline.
- Low risk = less than .2% chance of flooding. Also flood zone X, usually eligible for the Preferred Risk Program.
- Undetermined Risk = Zone D. FEMA is currently studying whether areas behind an uncertified levee, which has an unDetermined risk, should be classified as a Zone D. The rates for structures built before their community's original flood insurance rate map (pre-FIRM) are usually the same as the expensive Zone A rates.
Here's an image with the Erie Co, NY proposed flood map to see this clearly.
The Most Common Sets of Rates
Almost all flood policies are issued in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Note: there is only one NFIP, with the same rates available to every registered flood agent. So shopping for a lower rate is nonsense. Just get into the correct rating program!
- Zone A rates and Zone V rates (the most expensive rates, for high-risk Special Flood Hazard Areas)
- Zone X rates (for moderate and low-risk)
- the Preferred Risk Program (the least expensive rates, a package of building and contents coverage, for moderate and low-risk properties with limited previous flood losses).
- the Mortgage Portfolio Protection Policy (MP3) - a lender can force-place a required flood policy with these super expensive rates. Avoid by obtaining your own flood policy from a knowledgeable registered insurance agent.
- Elevation rating. If in a Special Flood Hazard Area (zone A / zone V) and
if you obtain an Elevation Certificate that shows your lowest rated floor is equal to or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), rates are cheaper than zone A /zone V.
If you install "proper venting" (flood vents, eg. smartvent.com) in a crawl space or garage, that area can often be ignored for rating purposes, thereby raising the "lowest rating floor", to reduce rates.
Discuss this with a knowledgeable authority (flood plain manager, professional engineer, FEMA rep, licensed surveyor, etc).
This means rating a flood insurance policy with the less expensive prior zone. Eg Current zone is A and the prior zone was X. Or current zone is V and the prior zone was A. We classify this into three catagories.
- Catagory 1. Built-in-Compliance with the zone in effect when built. Eg. Original flood map in 1980 showed zone X. Structure was built some years later, while in zone X. A new flood map shows structure is now in zone A. No major improvements/expansions or losses since the new map adopted; qualifies for the prior flood zone rate, zone X.
- Catagory 2. Continuous coverage. Flood policy purchased before the new map adopted. New map placed structure into a higher risk flood zone. As long as the policy is never cancelled, and no major improvements/expansions or losses, it will renew with the prior zone rating. What a savings!
- Catagory 3. Continuous coverage starting with a "Preferred Risk Policy under the Eligibility Extension". If a flood policy is purchased within a certain time frame after a new map is adopted, it will later always renew with the prior zone rating, as long as the policy is never cancelled and no major improvements/expansions or losses. Note: Not applicable if new zone is zone D.
- These last two catagories of grandfathered zone continuous coverage have these important characteristics:changes can be made to the building (& contents) limits, deductible(s), mortgage info, the owner of the policy. See "Assignment" below.
Your Grandfathered zone continuous coverage policy can be ASSIGNED to the next owner. Passing on this lower cost flood policy to the next owner increases the market value of your property.
Building limit required is the lender's choice.
The building limit required by a lender can be:
- The loan balance. eg $20,000
- equal to the fire insurance policy limit. eg $160,000
- the structure's replacement cost. eg $200,000
Flood Zone Determination
Letters of Map Change from FEMA.
Determine Your Situation
Assess your risk of flood loss and determine if flood insurance is required, or desired. For rating purposes, it is most important to determine if your main structure is newly being added, or has recently been added, into a high-risk flood zone A or V or the unDetermined flood zone D. Compare your flood zone in the current map and in the proposed/previous flood maps.
There is ONE National Flood Insurance Program with identical rates available for every agent. Knowledge and experience with the NFIP is critical to obtaining the best program. Read our Q&As for some detailed practical answers to common questions.
Common Scenarios and Worksheet
Read about the more common scenarios property owners find themselves in. This pdf also has a useful worksheet to show which flood insurance programs you are eligible for, based on your current and proposed flood zone.
To view flood maps, click here. Flood Maps
Flood Insurance - Questions & Answers
Visit our Flood Insurance Q & A to see our most commonly asked questions and answers.
Flood Insurance Pricing
If you would like more information regarding the cost of Flood Insurance, visit Flood Ins. Pricing.
You will see sample pricing for residential and non-residential buildings, with and without a basement.
Local Informational Meetings
We understand that there will be over 1700 Erie County, NY properties that are newly being added to the high-risk flood zone A or unDetermined risk flood zone D. For more information, attend a free or low cost meeting.
So How Much Damage Can a Few Inches of Water Really Cause?
See FloodSmart.Gov's Flood Damage Estimator.
Mandatory Purchase of Flood Insurance Guidelines September 2007 or our highlighted version.
Flood Insurance Manual. Updated twice a year. Get the latest version here.
The NYSDEC floodplain management section, at (518) 402-8151, can answer questions about both the map and the NFIP in general. NYSDEC has a Q&A here. www.dec.ny.gov/lands/40564.html
FEMA contact Patricia.Griggs@dhs.gov : (212) 680-8523
Map status info:www.rampp-team.com/ny.htm
If you have questions about the proposed flood map, please visit www.rampp-team.com/
or contact Paul Weberg at (212) 680-3638 or Paul.Weberg@dhs.gov.
Learn more about flood hazards at the following web sites:
Please note: This website is written in an easy-to-read, explanatory, style. More detailed information is available on official FEMA websites.
This website discusses Flood Insurance available in the National Flood Insurance Program, part of FEMA, under the Department of Homeland Security.