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Flooding & Flood Risks

Map Changes and Flood Insurance

How map changes affect flood insurance

FEMA works with communities to map flood risk. When new flood maps become available, you might learn that your flood risk has increased or decreased, which can affect what you pay for flood insurance. However, there is usually a 6- to 12-month period between the time the new "preliminary" maps are issued and the time that they become effective. This gives you adequate time to prepare for the new risk and possibly save on flood insurance.

This chart explains different map-change scenarios:

If Maps Show... These Requirements, Options and Savings Apply
Change from low or moderate flood risk (Zones B, C, or X) to high risk (Zones A, AE, AR, A99, AH, or AO) Flood insurance is mandatory. Flood insurance is federally required for most mortgage holders. Insurance costs may rise to reflect the true (or high) risk.

The Newly Mapped procedure can offer savings.
The Newly Mapped procedure allows policyholders to purchase coverage at the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) rate for the first 12 months after new maps go into effect. After the first year, the rate begins its transition to a full-risk rate with annual rate increases of no more than 18 percent each year.

"Grandfathering" can offer savings. The NFIP’s Grandfather Rules recognizes policyholders who built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction or who maintain continuous coverage. Sometimes, though, using the new flood maps can actually result in a lower premium, especially if the home is high enough above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
Change from high flood risk (Zones A, AE, AR, A99, AH, or AO) to moderate to low risk (Zone X or Shaded X) Flood insurance is optional but recommended. The risk is only reduced, not removed. You can still obtained flood insurance, and at a lower rate. Even though flood insurance isn't federally required, everyone is financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file more than 20 percent of all NFIP flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal disaster assistance for flooding. When it's available, disaster assistance is typically a loan that you must repay with interest.

Conversion offers savings. Your insurance agent can easily convert an existing policy to a lower-cost PRP if the building qualifies. Note that lenders always have the option to require flood insurance in these areas.
Increase in the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) An increase in BFE can result in higher premiums; however, grandfathering can offer savings. The NFIP's Grandfather Rule allows policyholders who have built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction to keep the earlier BFE to calculate their insurance rate. This option could result in significant savings.
No change in risk level No change in insurance rates. However, this is a good time to review your coverage and ensure that your building and contents are adequately protected.

When should you check for flood map changes for your area?

FEMA suggests the following:

  • Home or business owners—Be sure to check with your agent at your yearly renewal time or earlier if a map change is announced in your community.
  • Insurance agents—At least once a month to stay informed of any changes and how they will affect your clients.
  • Realtors—When listing a house or showing a prospective buyer, check to see if map changes are occurring that could change the level of flood risk on the property of interest.
  • Lenders—When issuing or refinancing a mortgage to determine if flood insurance is, or will be, required.
  • Contractors—Before planning construction to help decide where and how to build.

Discover how the the Grandfather Rule and the Newly Mapped procedure can help you save money. >>


For flood insurance rating purposes, a primary residence is a building that will be lived in by the insured or the insured's spouse for at least 80 percent of the 365 days following the policy effective date. If the building will be lived in for less than 80 percent of the policy year, it is considered to be a non-primary residence.

How Can I get Covered?

  • Rate your risk
  • Estimate your premiums
  • Find an agent

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Last Updated: Wednesday, 07-Oct-2015, 3:13 PM (EDT)

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