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Florida Flood Insurance & Flood Zone Info

Posted 01-04-2010 at 01:29 PM by SoFLGal
Updated 04-21-2014 at 09:13 PM by SoFLGal

Changes have been made for all communities in the Florida and remapping projects a still in the progress.

When you hear that all of Florida is in a flood zone, this is correct but a misinformed statement. Depending on the area 50% to 80% flood zones are is in a special flood hazard area (SFHA), where the mortgage companies will require flood insurance. The other 20% to 50% is in the flood zone B, C and X where the flood insurance can be purchased but is a choice of the property owners.

Property owners should be aware of how flood insurance works and know what the average cost are. In the past owner's have accepted that they were in the flood zone and just paid it without knowing if they are paying the right amount or if it was correct. Talk with your neighbors, insurance should be within a reasonable range of each other, but it happens that three identical neighbors are paying $400, $1800 and $900 for the same coverage. The newest neighbor (within the last 5 years) should have been rated with the newest flood zone information and all the required documentation by the insurance agent; and their premium should be the benchmark for the neighborhood comparison.

Now the industry standard is the burden is left up to the property owner to know what flood zone their building is affected by. If your property has been upgraded to a better/new flood zone (lower risk), the lender or insurance company will not notify the owner to modify the existing flood insurance policy because of more beneficial flood zone. Modifying the current policy will require a new elevation certificate which can cost up to $150, but the savings depending on the flood zone can be $200-$1000 savings (plus possible refunds), it will be worth the investment to look into. Owners can find a flood insurance/zone consultants to determine the best option available, most of these companies do not charge if they cannot provided any solutions for the flood insurance. These companies are working for the property owners, not the lender or the insurance company.

Following list is how business and home owners are being affected by the new flood zones:
Your building has been re-designated into a new flood zone. The mortgage lender will now require flood insurance for your building because of a federal requirements. The owner should do one of the following:
1--Get an FEMA elevation certificate from a qualified surveyor. This certificate is used by the insurance companies to correctly rate flood insurance. The elevation certificate needs to show the newest flood zones, so older certificates will not be valid for new flood insurance policies. If the building is built correctly and conforms to the new flood zone the insurance cost for maximum coverage should be as follows: Zone AE = $1000+/- or less, Zone AH = $430+/- or less, Zone X = $0 to $348 (owners choice on coverage).

2--If the insurance seems too high, have a flood zone consultant verify if the building would benefit from a historical classification to the original flood zone at the time of construction. This is a special classification for insurance, because the building should not pay higher insurance premiums if it was build correctly at the time of construction.

3--Keep your previous coverage using the grandfathering rule, if the owner holds an existing policy they can continue using it (do not let your insurance lapse).

4--Challenge the new FEMA flood zone. This process only affects houses that are higher than the calculated flood. This process is determined on a house by house basis, one neighbor can be approved for an exemption while others will not (for example one will pass by 1/8" and the other fail by 1/8").
Your building has been re-designated out of the Special Flood Hazard Area. The mortgage lender will not require flood insurance for your building because of a federal requirements. The owner should do the following:
1--Contact the insurance division for the mortgage lender and notify them that a flood zone designation has changed. They will review the flood zone that affects the property and provide a written response for the owners request. If the bank releases the requirement for flood insurance, the owner can keep the current policy, or rewrite the current policy to a cheaper preferred risk policy, or cancel the current policy completely. The insurance policy holder is eligible for full refunds from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Various items can cause the insurance to be different:
1--Never had an elevation certificate, the insurance company uses the elevation certificate to correctly rate the flood insurance policy. If the insurance company does not have an elevation certificate on record, the insurance policy is probably based on a pre-FIRM calculations (basically means the house was built before the flood zones). This rate is usually higher than using the new flood zones.

2--Elevation certificate has minor errors (1/8" can cost a homeowner a $600 difference in flood insurance premiums. The insurance companies can only input the elevations shown on the elevation certificate, they are not able to round numbers or validate the quality of the certificate documents. In most cases, the cheapest quote for an elevation certificate might not be the best option for the homeowner. The owner can obtain a second opinion on the previous elevation certificate to verify the original certificate.

3--Rated in the wrong flood zone or older flood zone, in some cases the flood zone change 10+ years ago and the owner is never informed that using the newer flood zone can help save money. Basically it is up to the property owner to review and question the insurance policy if there is a other options for their flood insurance needs.

4--Various of other red tape rules based on the construction of the house.
For more informational websites
FEMA website for consumer information
Floodsmart.gov: Your premier resource for flood insurance information

Also for individual counties preform a google search with the county name and either FEMA or flood zone.

Go here: https://msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/FemaWelcomeView?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&lang Id=-1 and type your address in the box on the left.

Then hit "click a point" and place you cursor right over where your house would be. Then click "retrieve printed firm panel". It will come up with another page for you to "view" or "buy" the map. Click "view". Then it will come up with a black and white map. Find your home on the map and look to see what flood zone your home is in.
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