Do you know if your land is in a flood zone? If not, you should. Even if your land does not flood yearly (or even every decade), you may need flood insurance to protect you from a flood that is destined to happen at some point in the future. Most homeowners insurance policies do not automatically cover a flood, even if your property is in a flood zone.
Knowing whether or not your home is in a flood zone is important whether you are a property owner, homeowner, or tenant. You’ll need to know this information if you wish to determine the cost or apply for flood insurance. It’s also important to know about the dangers of flooding so that you’re not caught unprepared. Flood zones also have implications for public utilities, real estate development, and other actions on the land.
To find out if land is in a flood zone, you’ll need to look at a flood map. This map, which covers all areas of the United States, is produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and is updated every few years. FEMA flood maps are available for free viewing on the internet. The process for determining whether your land lies in a flood zone is very easy. Simply find your property on the FEMA flood zone map.
To find a particular property on the flood map, you’ll need a little information about where the property is located. All properties are represented in the map, regardless of their flood zone designation. You can use the street address or the state, county, and city to go to that part of the flood map directly. You can also view the entire map of the area, zooming in until you have located the particular lot in which you’re interested. If you’ve already viewed the flood map and known the Panel ID for the FEMA flood map of your area, enter that ID number to be taken directly to that section of the map. Once you’ve found the area of the map that is of interest to you, you can purchase a copy, or print it for free on your own printer.
On this map, you’ll see the various flood zones, from areas likely to flood annually to those that may flood every century or even less frequently. Some areas that you may not think of as being in a flood zone are actually located in a flood zone. Floodplains are described by the expected frequency of flooding. For example, an annual floodplain is expected to flood once each year, while a 100-year floodplain is expected to flood about once every 100 years. Anywhere it rains, flooding is possible, even if you’ve never heard of floods in the area. In fact, according to the National Flood Insurance Program, nearly a quarter of flood insurance claims come from areas with low to moderate flood risk. The flood risk shown on a FEMA flood map is based on history, rainfall, riverflow, topography, and other data, and is re-evaluated every few years based on new data.
The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium you’ll have to pay. Flood insurance providers use the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for insurance evaluations. This map shows your community’s base flood elevation, flood zones, and the boundaries of the floodplain, or area that is most at risk of frequent flooding. If your home is located in a flood plain likely to flood at least once per century, you are required to have flood insurance. This can be a problem if you have modified your land, for example building up the land under your home so that it no longer lies in the floodplain. In order to reduce your flood insurance requirements, you may need to have a land surveyor survey your land to provide elevation certification.