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Published by National Flood Services, 2019-01-29 17:20:05

Foremost Making Sense of Flood Map Chanes

National Flood Insurance Program

Making Sense of

Flood Map Changes


The 2017 hurricane season was one of the most damaging and costly ever recorded.

Consecutive hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, alone caused nearly $200 billion in
damage. In the wake of these devastating storms, National Flood Insurance Program
(NFIP) policyholders filed more than 125,000 claims, and the NFIP has paid an
estimated $9 billion . Regrettably, only 36 percent of financial damage was insured,
leaving a staggering 64 percent of the flood victims to cover their damages

With forecasters predicting the continuation of severe weather events on the scale of
2017, we continue to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
to help educate and engage insurance agents and their clients about flood risk with
the shared goal of fostering safer communities for all in which to live and work.

The greater the understanding of flood maps and flood risk, the better we can work
together to make sure that property owners are equipped to make informed decisions
and take wise action steps to safeguard their homes, buildings, loved ones and valued
possessions against potential flood damage.

Louis Hobson

CEO National Flood Services

National Flood Services
555 Corporate Drive • Kalispell, MT 59901
(406) 756-8656

Statistics attributed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has warned that anyone can be financially

vulnerable to floods. Yet, Americans remain vastly underinsured. NFS created this ebook to help
insurance agents and their clients understand how to make sense of flood maps and how flood map
changes impact the need and requirements for flood insurance.

Flood Fact

Floods are the most common and costly natural Annual Record - 2017

disaster in the nation. During 2017, the U.S.
was impacted by 16 separate billion-dollar
disaster events with a cumulative cost
exceeding $300 billion, a new U.S. annual Annual cost 3
record. This included 3 tropical cyclones, 8 8 tropical
severe storms and 2 inland flooding events. severe exceeding Cyclones
Storms $300 billion

Because a homeowners policy typically does
not cover flooding, obtaining flood
insurance is the most powerful way for 2

property owners to safeguard their family, inland
home and business from flood loss. Flood

Flood Fact Statistics attributed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Table of Contents

01. What is a Flood Map

Flood Maps 101 02. How Flood Maps are Used
03. How Flood Risk is Determined
Understanding the Basics 04. How Flood Risk Impacts Flood Insurance

05. Why Flood Maps Change

01. How Flood Map Changes Impact Flood Insurance

Flood Maps 2.0 02. Low Risk to High Risk
03. High Risk to Higher Risk
Map Change Scenarios 04. High Risk to Low Risk
05. No Change

Flood Maps 3.0 01. Ways to Save When Flood Maps Change
Action Steps for Property Owners 02. Additional Resources

Flood Maps 101

Understanding the Basics

What is a Flood Map

Flood hazard maps, also called Flood Insurance
Rate Maps (FIRMs), reflect a community’s flood Flood Fact
zones, Base Flood Elevations (BFEs), and

floodplain boundaries, which collectively are used
to determine flood risk. FIRMs are the most
commonly distributed NFIP flood maps.

Flood Maps help establish flood insurance
requirements and rates for the National Flood
Insurance Program (NFIP).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency All too often, people think their property is not at
(FEMA) works with communities across the nation risk because it isn’t in a high-risk flood zone or
to identify flood hazards and publish flood maps has never flooded. In fact, approximately 64% of
to help property owners and communities households impacted by the hurricanes harvey,
understand the degree of risk in those areas and Irma and Maria in 2017 did not have flood
guide them to mitigation actions. insurance.

Flood Fact Statistics attributed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency

How Flood Maps are Used

Flood maps Community o cials

are used for use flood maps to establish local flood risk, manage community flood-
plains, and set building safety requirements in order to help safeguard
insurance, against losses from future flooding events.

planning and Mortgage lenders

floodplain use flood maps to help determine a property’s flood
risk and decide whether to require flood insurance as a
management condition of a loan.

purposes by How

multiple Flood Maps Insurance professionals
use flood maps to determine a property’s flood
stakeholder are risk and develop flood insurance premiums.

groups, Used

including: Developers and builders

use flood maps as part of their location siting and
construction decisions.

Property owners (residential and business)
use flood maps to understand flood risk and make informed
decisions for protecting their property financially and structurally
from flood damage.


How Flood Risk is Determined

FEMA uses the best available statistical data (such as FIRMs reflect the designated flood zones as

river flow, storm tides, hydrologic/hydraulic follows:
analyses, and rainfall and topographic surveys) to Moderate- to low-risk areas are labeled Zone X
determine risk and outline a community’s flood map. (or Zones B and C on older maps)

Additional considerations in determining a High-risk areas begin with the letters A or V
community’s flood risk include: rainfall and river flow Areas where the risk is not known are shown with
data, topography, wind velocity, tidal surge, flood the letter D

control measures, building development (existing
and planned) and community maps. FIRMs also reflect Base Flood Elevations (BFEs),
which are:
Floodplains and areas subject to coastal storm surge
are shown as high-risk zones or Special Flood Hazard The height that flood waters can be expected to
Areas (SFHAs). Some parts of floodplains may reach during a major flood
experience frequent flooding while others are only A factor used in determining flood insurance
a ected by severe storms. premiums

Used by participating communities in making
floodplain management decisions

The regulatory requirement for the elevation or
flood-proofing of structures


How Flood Risk Impacts Flood Insurance

Flood insurance premium is based on several factors, HIGH RISK
primarily flood zone, flood history, building type LOW TO MODERATE HIGH RISK COASTAL UNDETERMINED
and age, and elevation. For instance: RISK AREAS AREAS AREAS RISK AREAS

If a building is in a high-risk area—SFHA—a V,VE,V1-30
property owner is likely to pay a higher flood D
insurance rate than someone in a moderate- to

low-risk area.
A, AE, A1-30,
AH, AO, A99
In a high-risk area, the insurance rate will also
depend on when a building was built compared
B, C or X
to the date of the community’s first FIRM. Some (shaded or unshaded)
buildings built before the community’s first FIRM,
called pre-FIRM, are eligible for subsidized rates.

Properties located in moderate-to-low risk areas

are still vulnerable to flooding and as such, if they
meet eligibility requirements, they can find
a ordable options under the NFIP.


Why Flood Maps Change

Flood hazards and water flow can change frequently as a result of

weather patterns, erosion, and new land use and community Flood Fact
development or by natural forces such as wildfires and mudslides.
Levees and dams may be impacted by changes over time and, as a
result, increase flood risk. Click here for more information
regarding flood mapping hazards.

FEMA uses the latest technology to update and issue new FIRMs as
part of a nationwide e ort called The Risk Mapping Assessment Floods can happen anywhere. In fact,
and Planning (Risk MAP) aimed at helping communities 98 percent of counties in the United

understand their true risk. States have experienced a flood and
more than 25 percent of flood claims
Click here for a comprehensive overview of flood maps and how come from properties outside the
they are made. high-risk flood zones.

Flood Fact Statistics attributed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Flood Maps 2.0

Map Change Scenarios

How Flood Map Changes Impact Flood Insurance

Properties may be newly mapped from a low- to moderate-risk flood
zone (B, C, or X) into a high-risk flood zone (A zone). Other properties Map Change Scenarios:
may move from a high-risk flood zone (A or AE zone) to an even

higher-risk flood zone (V or VE zone). Some will be mapped into a Risk & Impact
lower-risk flood zone (B, C, or X), and some will not be a ected at all.
It’s important for agents to know
the types of flood map changes that
When a community’s flood map is updated, both the flood risk and
building or insurance requirements may change. The flood risk may could occur in order to help each
become higher or lower, which can a ect what property owners pay for client consider the potential
flood insurance. For instance, homeowners in high-risk areas may be outcome to their risk and insurance
required by law to obtain flood insurance. At the same time, homes requirements. In any case, a map
remapped into lower-risk zones may qualify for insurance at a lower rate. change may impact the wallet, so
agents should be prepared to guide
their clients to respond with smart
action steps to help them protect
Agent Alert
their property, both financially and
There is usually a 6- to12-month period between the time the new structurally. Consider how flood risk
“preliminary” maps are issued and the time that they are may change based on the scenario
implemented. Talk with your insureds as they must act during this on page 13.
time period to protect their property and, possibly, save on flood
insurance. FEMA’s Understanding Preliminary Flood Hazard Maps
Fact Sheet.


Map Changes: from Low Risk to High Risk

Change in risk

When a current or prospective policyholder moves from a low- to Recommended Action
high-risk flood zone, their building has been newly designated in a

high-risk area for flooding. Insurance is now mandatory for holders of As the property is now at an
mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders, and it is increased risk of flooding, agents
recommended for all others. will want to make sure the property

Rate impact is insured for the higher risk. And if

For these impacted properties, the current flood map shows the property a client holds a mortgage, flood
is located in a high-risk flood area, but the cost of flood insurance is insurance coverage will be
discounted based on the prior flood map showing lower flood risk. FEMA required. Insureds can maximize
provides discounted rates to those who have been newly mapped into their savings by purchasing a
the high risk area, but also requires flood insurance costs to eventually Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) before
reflect the higher flood risk reflected in the current map. Under the Newly the new maps become e ective.
Mapped procedure, the NFIP provides newly a ected building owners
with a cost-saving option. Learn more about cost saving options available The NFIP has a lower-cost option
with FEMA’s Newly Mapped Procedure. available that may help reduce the
financial increase due to the map

Note: Proposed changes to the Newly Mapped procedure will be change. You can help keep
e ective October 1, 2018, and will provide property owners with insureds’ costs down by locking in
extended eligibility based on late notification from their lender beyond the lower-risk zone or Base Flood
the current 12 months from the date of the new map. Elevation (BFE) for future rating.


Helpful Resources for Agents

NFIP Newly Mapped Video

Map Change Postcard Sample

Letter to Client Going into SFHA Sample

Helpful Resources for Property Owners

Newly Mapped HFIAA Fact Sheet for Consumers
Flood Insurance and Flood Maps Fact Sheet

[English] [Spanish]

Agent Alert

If the property is near a levee, the flood risk may
be higher than anticipated. Hundreds of levees
across the country no longer meet federal
standards for protection, so when new maps are
issued, these areas will be shown as high risk.


Map Changes: from High Risk to Higher Risk

Change in risk

The property is now at an even higher risk for flooding. Flood insurance is Recommended Action
mandatory for holders of mortgages from federally regulated and insured

lenders, and encouraged for all others with structures in these high- and Because rates will be higher and
higher-risk flood zones. the insured’s property is now at an
Rate impact even greater risk for flooding,

Property owners can grandfather the lower-risk zone or BFE for future check with the NFIP for options

rating by purchasing a policy before the maps become e ective and then that may help save on insurance if
maintain their coverage. Policyholders must maintain continuous a policy is purchased or current
coverage to qualify for a more a ordable rate. coverage is maintained before the
map change occurs.
The lower BFE or lower-risk zone is applicable when the structure was
built and can be grandfathered and used for rating if the new maps are
already in e ect.

“Grandfathering” is available for property owners who already have Agent Alert
flood insurance in e ect when new flood maps become e ective and
then maintain continuous coverage or have built in compliance with the A policy with a grandfathered
FIRM in e ect at the time of construction. For more information on rating can be transferred, under
grandfathering and continuous coverage, please see NFIP certain criteria, to new owners if
Grandfathering Rules for Agents. the building is sold.


Helpful Resources for Agents

Grandfathering Fact Sheet

Letter to Client Going from High- to Higher-Risk


Helpful Resources for Property Owners

Flood Insurance and Flood Maps Fact Sheet

[English] [Spanish]

Flood Fact

of NFIP flood insurance
25% claims come from areas

outside of mapped
high-risk flood areas

In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1-in-4 chance
of flooding during a 30-year mortgage; flood
insurance may be required in these areas. And, as
shown in 2017, areas directly outside of the
designated high-risk areas also remain at
considerable risk.

Flood Fact Statistics attributed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Map Changes: from High Risk to Low Risk

Change in risk

It is important to remember that even though a property is re-mapped to Recommended Action
a lower-risk zone, the risk is reduced, not removed. Maintaining insurance

coverage provides insureds with needed protection against the financial Policyholders in this category
risk of flooding. should know that while their flood
Rate impact risk is reduced, it is not eliminated,

If a property is remapped to a lower-risk zone, insureds may be eligible and they may be eligible to convert

for a lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). The PRP o ers multiple cover- their policy to a lower-cost
age combinations for both buildings and contents (or contents-only for Preferred Risk Policy to save them
renters) located in moderate- to low-risk areas (B, C, X, AR, and A99 money while still maintaining the
Zones). Preferred Risk Policies are available for residential or non-residen- coverage needed.
tial buildings also located in these zones that meet eligibility require-
ments based on the building’s entire flood loss history. Though flood insurance isn't
federally required for structures

FEMA advises property owners to stay protected and, where applicable, located in lower-risk flood zones,
insureds may be refunded the premium di erence once the maps are anyone can be financially exposed

e ective. There will be no gaps in coverage and no additional money to floods.
up front.


Helpful Resources for Agents
Flood Fact

Preferred Risk Policy Conversion Fact Sheet
Preferred Risk Policy Marketing Fact Sheet Just 1-inch of water in an average-sized home can
cause more than $25,000 in damages. If a property is
Letter to Client Going into NSFHA Template in a low-to-moderate flood risk area, flood insurance

Agent Tips and Talking Points could be more a ordable than anticipated.

Helpful Resources for Property Owners

Agent Alert
Residential Preferred Risk Policy Brochure

for Consumers Agent Alert The Flood Insurance Processing Center
automatically reviews and converts eligible in-force
Commercial Preferred Risk Policy Brochure
for Consumers policies from SFHA to a Non-SFHA PRP the day
following the FIRM e ective date, without any
Why You Need Flood Insurance Brochure Agent action required. A new PRP Declarations
for Consumers [English] [Spanish] page, refund check (if applicable), and letter
(insured and agent copies) will then be generated.

Flood Fact Statistics attributed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency

No Change

Recommended Action

Even if a property owner’s risk and rate
have not changed on the FIRM, flood
insurance is still strongly recommended to
help reduce the financial impact of future

flooding events. Agents, check with your 70% LOSSES 20% NFIP CLAIMS
insureds to make sure they have the IN HURRICANE HARVEY WERE OCCUR IN MODERATE- TO
appropriate amount of coverage. OUTSIDE OF MANDATORY AREAS

Hurricane Harvey – estimated under 20% of
homeowners had flood insurance and 70% of losses
were outside mandatory flood coverage purchase areas 1

Hurricane Irma – estimated only 30-40% of
Flood Fact homeowners had flood insurance 2

Typically there is a 30-day wait period 1,2
between when an insured purchases a
policy and when it becomes e ective.

Flood Fact Statistics attributed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Flood Maps 3.0

Action Steps for Property Owners

Ways to Save When Flood Maps Change

FEMA revises flood maps to keep communities up to date
with the most reliable information about flood risk. Flood Fact
Property owners should be aware that, because premiums Remember, homeowners insurance typically does
are based on risk, a change in flood risk also means a not cover floods. Over the life of a mortgage, a

potential change to insurance rates. For property owners home is more likely to su er damage from flood
looking to save on flood insurance, here are some practical than fire. Agents, talk with your clients about
tips to help lower both the risk and premium:
alternatives or special o erings such as the Newly
Mapped procedure or grandfather rating.


1. Buy a policy before the new FIRM goes into e ect – Map
changes are coming. Agents, talk to your insureds about
ways to maximize their savings on insurance, reduce their risk
and ensure they are protected. To learn about a recent or

upcoming flood map change, visit: Flood Hazard
Determination Notices

2. Take advantage of the NFIP grandfathering option - The
NFIP grandfathering option lets policyholders who have built
their home/building in compliance with the flood map in
e ect at the time of construction use their previous zone or

BFE to calculate the insurance rate. This provides an
opportunity for potential savings. Click here to read more
about grandfathering options and rules.

3. Apply for a Letter of Map Change (LOMC) – While FIRMs
are developed at a mapping scale that may be useful for
community o cials, lenders, and insurance professionals, not
every rise in terrain can be depicted at this scale. If you think
a building is imprecisely mapped as being in a high-risk area,

FEMA has a process that allows property owners to request a
more precise flood zone determination.

This process includes the Letter of Map Amendment
(LOMAs) and Letter of Map Revision-Fill (LOMR-Fs)
options. A LOMA can be requested if a property has been
mapped in a high-risk flood zone but is actually on
naturally high ground. A LOMR-F is used for a property that

has been elevated above the BFE by the placement of fill.
For more information, visit FEMA’s Letter of Map Change
informational site.


4. Consider a higher deductible - Increasing the deductible will
lower the premium. Selecting the maximum deductible of
$10,000 will result in up to a 40 percent discount from the
base premium. Keep in mind using the maximum deductible

might not be appropriate in every financial circumstance, and
some lenders might not accept deductibles higher than the
standard deductibles.

5. Encourage the community to participate in the Community
Rating Service (CRS) - CRS is a voluntary discount program
that recognizes communities for implementing floodplain
management practices and other activities that exceed the

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum
requirements. In exchange for a community’s proactive e orts
to reduce flood risk, policyholders can receive reduced flood
insurance premiums. For more information, visit National Flood
Insurance Program Community Rating System.

6. Reduce Risk Exposures - Lowering a property’s exposure to
flooding may result in eligibility for lower premium rates. For
example, if the insured fills in a basement or installs flood vents
in the crawlspace beneath the lowest level of their building,
this helps reduce the chance that the building’s foundation will
be displaced during a flood and potentially lower the


7. When remodeling or rebuilding, the insured should consider
Agent Alert
retrofitting or elevating their entire structure. An insured may
Insureds should talk to their local also find savings by taking simple steps such as raising heating

floodplain administrator or review FEMA’s and cooling systems, water heaters, the electrical panel, and
Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting other mechanical items so that they are less likely to be
damaged or destroyed in a flood.


Additional Resources

For a high level overview of flood maps, visit: Flood Smart: All About Flood Maps
To help explain map changes and the implications for flood insurance to property owners, visit: Map Changes and

Flood Insurance – What Property Owners Need to Know
To learn about a recent or upcoming flood map change, visit: Flood Hazard Determination Notices

To view and download a Flood Map for your area, visit: FEMA Flood Map Service Center

To learn more about FEMA’s flood hazard mapping program, visit: National Flood Insurance Program Flood Hazard
Mapping Program

For an overview of flood hazard mapping, visit: Overview Flood Hazard Mapping Updates

For more information about changes to the NFIP, visit: Regulatory Resource landing page

Want to learn more about flood maps?

For more information about the NFIP and flood insurance,
CALL 1-800-427-4661.
To speak with a flood map specialist,
contact the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) at
877-FEMA-MAP (877-336-2627).


FEMA Map Service

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Flood Map Service Center (MSC) is the o cial public
source for flood hazard information produced in support
of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Use the
MSC or local community map repository to find o cial
flood maps, access a range of other flood hazard
products, and take advantage of tools for better
understanding flood risk.

• E ective Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and any
amendments or revisions that apply to them may be
accessed through the site’s Address Search which
makes creating a firmette easier than ever. Users may
access the MSC’s full range of products accessible
through the Search All Products function. All MSC
products and services are available at no cost.

• A local Community Map Repository usually located in
the planning and zoning o ce, typically has copies of
flood maps. Please contact a FEMA Map Information
eXchange (FMIX) Map Specialist to determine the
location of your Community Map Repository.

• Flood map infographic: This is an overview of the
making of a flood map–from beginning to end.


A leader in the flood industry for more than three decades, National
Flood Services provides a broad range of flood insurance options and
private flood solutions designed to meet the evolving needs of property
owners in today’s complex regulatory environment.

Making a di erence in people’s lives by helping protect what is important
is the core value behind our e orts in helping to rebuild lives after flooding
events. As we continue fostering partnerships with WYO carriers,
educating insurance agents on flood risk and providing value-added
policyholder services, our ultimate goal at NFS is to truly make a
di erence with each and every person we serve.

555 Corporate Drive • Kalispell, MT 59901 • (406) 756-8656

© National Flood Services plc 2018. All rights reserved.
This eBook is for general informational purposes only and is not intended
to provide individualized legal or regulatory advice. It is not intended to
be a substitute for any NFIP publications. Claims figures referenced in this
document are preliminary as claims are still being processed.

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