Flood Map Modernization
Detailed Thorough Precise.
Flood Maps Are Changing: Know Your Options
Updated digital flood hazard maps, DFIRMs, may bring changes in flood insurance requirements for property owners. It is important for insurance professionals to learn how their clients will be affected by the new maps and what the best options are. A fact sheet has been prepared describing what insurance professionals need to know. Additional fact sheets and tips are available on the Resources Page.
Mapped to a High-Risk Area: The Grandfathering Option
When properties are mapped into a high-risk area, flood insurance will be required for anyone holding a mortgage through a federally regulated or insured lender. Before the new DFIRMs go into effect, insurance agents and brokers should compare the two sets of maps (the current effective map and the new preliminary DFIRM maps) to see if any clients will be affected and therefore should be alerted to the upcoming change. If a building is going to be mapped into a high-risk zone or if the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is increasing, encourage the property owner to purchase (or maintain) a policy now. That way the owner is protected now, and can grandfather or lock in that zone or elevation to maintain eligibility for the corresponding insurance rate when the map changes. For homes built before the community’s first flood map was issued (known as Pre-Firm Buildings), purchasing a flood policy before the new maps become effective is the only way to lock-in using rates associated with the earlier zone. Note, however, that sometimes the new maps may actually provide for a better premium than through grandfathering. For more details, refer to FEMA’s NFIP Map and Grandfather Rules and the National Flood Insurance Program Producer’s Manual.
Mapped to a Low-Moderate Risk Area: Convert to PRP
If properties are being mapped out of a high-risk area, the policies may be eligible for conversion to a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) when the new maps become effective. The owner will receive a refund for the difference in the premium paid between the standard rated policy in the high-risk zone and the new PRP, while remaining covered. More information on conversion can be found on the NFIP Conversion Fact Sheet.
Insurance agents and brokers should remember that they must always rate flood insurance policies using information from the Flood Insurance Rate Map currently in effect...not from the preliminary flood maps.
New, More Accurate Vertical Datum
As part of the nationwide Map Modernization effort, the new DFIRM’s are using new vertical datum as the base for all elevations (NAVD88). This datum is a much more accurate one than the almost 80-year old one used for the previous flood map (NGVD29). As a result, the building’s BFE could show one measurement on the old map (e.g. 975’) and another measurement on the new map (e.g. 978’) though its actual elevation will not have changed. So, before grandfathering a property where elevation is involved, make sure the elevation on the elevation certificate and the BFE on the FIRM are both using the same vertical datum. If not, there are conversion factors that can be obtained through the appropriate local jurisdiction.