Flood Insurance, Flood Plains, & Elevation Certificates

February 15, 2008

I wrote last fall about our flood insurance saga, we’ve had some new activity in the flood insurance arena recently.  As a recap, the government redrew the flood maps a while back so it appears our house which didn’t use to be in a flood zone, is now considered to be in a 100 year flood plain.

Flood Insurance Research
Our neighbors share the same flooding concerns that we do so one of them used what she knew as an appraiser to do some digging.  First she ran a Uniform Residential Appraisal Report, the flood map legend reported that our property was not in a FEMA special flood hazard area, however, it was within 250 feet of a FEMA special flood hazard area.

Then she contacted an engineer in the city offices who sent us some more detailed information.  The document he responded with had different information, which wasn’t good for us:

A portion of the above referenced property does appear to be within the Special Flood Hazard Area, SFHA, 100-year floodplain as indicated on the current panel.  The structure appears to be within the 100 year floodplain.

We recommend that if necessary a licensed land surveyor be engaged to determine if the subject property is in or out of the 100-year floodplain.  If the parcel is within the boundary and your mortgage holder requires Flood insurance.  An elevation certificate may be prepared by a licensed surveyor which may eliminate the mandatory flood insurance requirement. 

Elevation Certificate
At this point, both the city and our insurance company had suggested we have an elevation certificate prepared.  The insurance company would not give us any kind of quote without the elevation certificate so we bit the bullet and spent the $500 to hire a surveyor.

One tip on hiring a surveyor, it’s best to contact them directly rather than through a company like First American.  Their website quoted us $650 to pair us up with a licensed surveyor and have the elevation certificate done.  We were able to find a survey company that’s actually a partner with First American who charged us $500 directly.  So we saved quite a bit going right to the survey company.

We’re waiting on the results of the elevation certificate.  Once we get it back we’ll ask for a flood insurance quote from our insurance company. We also have the option of working with a company like First American to try and get the flood map adjusted so that we’re back out of the 100 year flood plain.

Of course, all the paperwork and zoning won’t have any impact on whether our house ever floods but it does make a big difference when trying to buy flood insurance and also when we try and sell our home someday.  We’ll see what the elevation certificate shows; hopefully we’ll have some good news.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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3 Responses to Flood Insurance, Flood Plains, & Elevation Certificates

  • Corey Gutherie

    I read your article and there are countless individuals that are in this same situation. I own a company that is like First American, but specializes in submitting applications to FEMA to remove structures and properties that are incorrectly identified in a Special Flood Hazard Area. We partner with Surveyors all over the country and find the best one for your case and put you into contact with them. We don’t mark up anything as you indicated with First American. We guarantee our work and you don’t have to pay a cent to Dry Land until FEMA actually removes your structure from the Special Flood Hazard Area, thus removing the Federal requirement of your lender to force the purchase of flood insurance.

    I am a registered Professional Engineer and a Certified Floodplain Manager. My mission is to correctly demonstrate actual floodplain limits and help individuals that feel they are forced into something that is unneccesary. Flooding is still always a risk and I encourage everyone to purchase at least a “preferred risk” flood insurance policy when qualified for it. I’ve helped hundreds of folks all over the country and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Contact, even if you just ahve a simple question. We are here to help.

  • kathy

    More people need to become aware of flood insurance because even with recent floodings in the midwest, the increase in people who have bought flood insurance is minimal.
    for more information read this article: http://www.1healthinsurance.net/articles/midwest%20floods%20and%20survey%20underscore%20need%20for%20flood%20insurance.pdf

  • tracy ho

    Great to read your article,

    All the best,

    Tracy Ho