Am I In A Flood Zone?
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Am I In A Flood Zone?

In the last 8 years I've provided a lot of Floridians with flood insurance. The question about whether you actually "need" it or not is difficult to answer, because everyone has a different risk tolerance. If your mortgage lender isn't requiring you to carry flood insurance, then you should analyze a few things first:

  1. Is your home in a flood zone?
  2. Are you willing to accept the flood risks where you live?

Some people are willing to accept that if their house was damaged by rising water, they would be fine paying those damages outright. Regardless, you should still understand how your community, and more specifically, the plot of land where your house resides, stands up to potential flooding.

Historically, you needed to contact an insurance agent to check your flood zone by address. The agent would request a formal determination from the National Flood Insurance Program and report back to you with the results. For the most part, those days are over.

It's not that you don't need an agent now, but you can search FEMA's records yourself to find out where your home is situated within the local floodplain. You can even print a satellite image.

Let's look at this and help you understand the process of searching for your address, understanding your results and deciding to either pursue or reject the risk.

First step - Search for your flood zone by address

FEMA has taken steps to help the public become more aware of their flood risk by offering tools online to access more flood data. Data consists of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) throughout the entire country. You can find one mapping tool by doing a Google search for FEMA Map Service Center. I'll warn you, even from an agent's perspective, it's not the easiest tool to use, but it's available if needed.

We have a search tool on our website that's available to the public, provides instant results is and very simple to use. You can click here to run a flood zone search for your address. It references the most up to date flood map information available online and might be worth checking out when you have time.

What do the flood zones mean?

After you complete your search, you'll see a flood zone code noted on the map which indicates your flood risk. FEMA codes the zones as follows:

  • A zones (comprised of A, AE, AH, AO, A99 and AR) - these zones are considered high-risk and flood insurance would be required if you have a mortgage. There's a 1% annual risk of flooding in these areas, or a 26% chance of flooding during the course of a 30 year loan.
  • V zones (comprised of V, VE and VO) - these also have a 1% annual risk or 26% over a 30 year loan, but these zones are also located in coastal areas. Properties are usually beachfront or riverfront and could be impact by tidal surge.
  • B, C, X zones - these are lower risk flood zones. Flood insurance will not be required for properties in these areas, but the risk of flooding is not completely eliminated.

Decide whether or not to pursue a policy

Homes in A and V zones are areas where mortgage companies will require you to purchase a flood policy. Remember, flooding is not covered on your homeowners policy. You may have even signed a rejection form as part of the home insurance application, indicating that you accept the risk of flooding on your own.

Normally I hear folks in B, C and X zones refer to their homes as "not being in a flood zone." Just know, these areas still represent about 25% of all flood claims made in the US. If you consider that almost all natural disasters in America include some kind of flooding, it doesn't seem like that much of a surprise.


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