Flooding is one of the most catastrophic events a home can endure. Just a single inch of flooding inside your house can result in more than $25,000 in damage. Since your homeowner’s insurance policy more than likely excludes the peril of flood, the only way to protect yourself is to purchase flood insurance.
Many homeowners are told their house is “not in a flood zone,” most likely by their mortgage lender. Happy to hear the good news, homeowners will then go on and make the decision not to purchase flood insurance. Unfortunately, “not in a flood zone” does not mean your home isn’t immune to flooding. Worse yet, there is a very good chance your home actually IS in a flood zone.
How can this be?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has 14 flood zone designations. Each zone falls into one of two categories:
- Moderate to low-risk areas –B, C, D, and X zones
- High-risk special flood hazard areas – A and V zones (and their variations)
When banks, mortgage lenders, and even the local news speak about flood zones, they are referring to A and V zones. Lenders require homes located in an A or V zone to purchase flood insurance as the risk of flooding in these zones 26% over the course of a 30-year mortgage.
If you are told you are “not in a flood zone,” this means you are likely in a B, C, D, or X zone (or in a rare unmapped location). Homes in these zones may only be subject to a 100 to 500-year flooding event. But here’s the rub…
More than 20% of all flood claims come from moderate to low hazard areas!
These are the same areas that have been misidentified as “not in a flood zone” by individuals who are looking only to protect their assets – not yours. To further complicate matters, your home’s risk of flooding changes over time. As we continue development, floodplains and water run-off can shift.
Flood maps are only updated every 8 to 10 years. Today you may indeed be in a low-risk flood zone. After a few short years of shopping malls, new neighborhoods, and urban sprawl, you home can quickly find itself in a high hazard area before FEMA has the chance to declare your area an A or V zone. Flood insurance for homes in a moderate to low flood hazard area is very affordable. Often costing only a few hundred dollars a year. The question is not IF you are in a flood zone, but WHICH flood zone. Once you learn the facts about the risks to your home, only then should you make the decision whether or not to purchase flood insurance – not because someone said you are “not in a flood zone.”