Devastating levels of flooding have struck the country in multiple places over the past few years. In the interior regions, most are caused by torrential rainfall that swells local creeks and rivers or causes a breach in a dam or levee. Along the coasts, heavy flooding often accompanies hurricanes and tropical storms, with 2017's Hurricane Harvey now classified as a 1 in 1000 year flooding event. For prospective home buyers, this type of news makes it more important than ever to understand what a flood elevation certificate is and what actions they should take to make sure their homes and properties are covered by flood insurance.
What is a flood elevation certificate?
Flood elevation certificates are issued through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to assist with homes and properties physically located within known floodplain areas. Information from these documents are used to ensure that property owners comply with current community management ordinances. In addition, they are used to help assign rates for insurance premiums and serve as documentation to support Letter of Map Amendments, which are often used to correct errors in existing floodplain maps.
Must every home have a flood elevation certificate?
Flood elevation certificates are designed for use with homes and structures that are located in areas that have a history of flooding in the past. Those with a history of frequent flooding are assigned a higher risk status and are required to pay higher flood insurance premiums than those built at higher elevations where the risk of damage is lessened.
Where can buyers get a flood elevation certificate for a property?
When considering the purchase of any home with a floodplain location, prospective buyers should always obtain a copy of the flood elevation certificate. There are several possible ways in which to do this, including:
- asking the seller to provide a copy
- checking with the county recorder's office to see if one is attached to the existing deed for the property
- requesting one through the area NFIP office
- requesting one from the builder or developer, if the home is newly constructed
In cases where it is not possible to obtain an existing copy, or when the existing copy is thought to be erroneous, prospective buyers can obtain a flood elevation certificate through a properly qualified land surveying company in their area. If you are seeking a new flood elevation certificate because of concerns about errors in an existing one, remember to discuss the matter with the area NFIP office to determine the proper process to follow. Contact a company, like Crest Engineering Associates , for more help.