flood-zone-sign

Is your home in a flood zone? YES… all homes are in a flood zone.  You may find this confusing if someone has told you that your home is not in a flood zone, or your lender does not require you to carry flood insurance.  In reality, it may just be that your home is in a flood zone that is considered non-hazardous.  We say this a lot in insurance – semantics are important when discussing your coverages.  Let’s elaborate…

For general purposes, there are currently three flood zones: X, AE, and VE.

  •  An “X” zone is considered non-hazardous and lenders do not typically require flood insurance in these areas.  According to www.floodsmart.gov, one-third of disaster assistance for flooding is from homes in X zones (Yes…homes in X zones can, and often do, flood).  “X” zones are supposed to have less than a 1% chance of flooding each year.
  • “AE” zones are considered moderately hazardous, and lenders will typically require that flood insurance be obtained in these zones.
  • “VE” is considered the most hazardous – high-velocity or high-risk, and a lender will typically require flood insurance be obtained in these zones. These coastal areas have an additional hazard associated with storm waves, and have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

 

Floods are often only equated with hurricanes, but the April 2014 floods in Mobile and Baldwin Counties are a great example of a non-hurricane flood event.  This historic rainfall episode produced record rainfalls in excess of 15” in some areas, which created flash flooding in areas that were generally considered non-hazardous “X” zones.

Please remember that just because your home hasn’t flooded before, doesn’t mean it can’t.  There are many reasons why flood maps are continuously evolving, and it is important to know where new neighborhood development and commercial construction fits into the equation.  The US Geological Survey Fact Sheet 076-03 indicates:

The changes in land use associated with urban development affect flooding in many ways. Removing vegetation and soil, grading the land surface, and constructing drainage networks increase runoff to streams from rainfall and snowmelt. As a result, the peak discharge, volume, and frequency of floods increase in nearby streams. Changes to stream channels during urban development can limit their capacity to convey floodwaters.
 

Finding Your Flood Zone:

Flood insurance is more important now than ever before.  With rates currently being subsidized by the US government, the time to obtain affordable flood coverage is now.  The first step in assessing your risk is knowing which flood zone is associated with your property.  Here are some resources:

  • Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center (click here for a link) and enter your information to view your property’s flood map.
  • Visit your City Hall, EMA Office, or Building Department to view your community’s flood map.
  •  Or Contact your local independent insurance agent for a free Flood Zone Determination.

Be sure to be on the lookout for our next post to learn about the typical flood insurance costs in various flood zones…