Frequently Asked Questions by Homeowners
What is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)?
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a Federal
program enabling property owners in participating communities
to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding.
This program is designed to provide an insurance alternative
to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of
repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by
Participation in the NFIP is based on an agreement between
local communities and the Federal Government. This agreement
states that if a community will adopt and enforce a floodplain
management ordinance to reduce future flood risks to new
construction in Special Flood Hazard Areas, the Federal
Government will make flood insurance available within the
community as a financial protection against flood losses.
What does community participation in the National Flood
Insurance Program mean and how does that affect a homeowner?
Communities, like the City of Wood River, decide to
participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Specifically, the City agreed to manage flood hazard areas by
adopting minimum regulatory standards may participate in the
If a community does not participate in the program,
property owners in that jurisdiction are not able to purchase
federally backed flood insurance. Also, federal grants, loans,
disaster assistance, and Federal mortgage insurance are
unavailable for the acquisition or construction of structures
located in the floodplain as shown on the NFIP maps.
Similarly, if a community does not participate in the
program, property owners are not subject to federal
requirements of mandatory flood insurance. However, a lender
is still required to inspect any flood maps to determine flood
hazard risk and provide notice of such risk. A lender may
require a borrower to obtain flood insurance even in the
absence of a federally mandatory requirement.
What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?
A Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is an insurance and
floodplain management map issued by FEMA that identifies areas
of 1-percent annual chance flood hazard in a community. In
some areas, the map also shows Base Flood Elevations and
0.2-percent annual chance floodplain boundaries and,
occasionally, regulatory floodway boundaries.
What is a Base Flood Elevation (BFE)?
A Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is the height of the base
flood, usually in feet, in relation to the National Geodetic
Vertical Datum of 1929, the North American Vertical Datum of
1988, or other datum referenced in the Flood Insurance Study
report, or average depth of the base flood, usually in feet,
above the ground surface.
What is a Flood Insurance Study (FIS)?
A Flood Insurance Study (FIS) is a book that contains
information regarding flooding in a community and is developed
in conjunction with the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). The
FIS, also known as a flood elevation study, frequently
contains a narrative of the flood history of a community and
discusses the engineering methods used to develop the FIRMs.
The study also contains flood profiles for studied flooding
sources and can be used to determine Base Flood Elevations for
Where can I find out more about purchasing flood
After a community joins the National Flood Insurance
Program, a policy may be purchased from any licensed property
insurance agent or broker who is in good standing in the State
in which the agent is licensed.
How are the rates determined for a flood insurance policy?
A number of factors are considered in determining the
premium for flood insurance coverage. They include:
the amount of coverage purchased;
age of the building;
design of the building;
and, for buildings in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs),
elevation of the building in relation to the Base Flood
Buildings eligible for special low-cost coverage at a
pre-determined, reduced premium rate are single-family and
one- to four-family dwellings located in Zones B, C, and X.
For these exceptions, certain loss limitations exist.
What elevation is used when rating a structure for a flood
The difference between the lowest floor elevation
(including basement) of your structure and the 1-percent
annual chance flood elevation is used to determine the
When is mandatory flood insurance required?
The Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and the National
Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 mandate the purchase of
flood insurance as a condition of Federal or federally
regulated financing for acquisition and/or construction of
buildings in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) of any
participating community. The purchase of flood insurance on a
voluntary basis is frequently prudent, even outside of SFHAs.
These Acts prohibit Federal agency lenders, such as the
Small Business Administration (SBA) and United States
Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Housing Service, and
Government-Sponsored Enterprises for Housing (such as Freddie
Mac and Fannie Mae) from making, guaranteeing, or purchasing a
loan secured by real estate or mobile home(s) in a SFHA,
unless flood insurance has been purchased and is maintained
during the term of the loan.
I have lived here forever and have never been flooded. Why
do I need flood insurance?
The flood hazards shown on National Flood Insurance Program
(NFIP) maps are based on the best information available at the
time the maps were prepared. In many areas, hydraulic and
hydrologic studies were conducted to reflect the long-term
projection of flood risk. Because of the infrequent occurrence
of flood events and the relatively short history of the NFIP,
Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are not based only on past
flooding occurrences. The fact that a flood hasn't occurred
within memory doesn't mean one won't happen soon.
The 100-year flood is a relatively rare event (1-percent
chance in any given year), but structures located in the
floodplain have a significant chance (26%) of suffering flood
damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage. For these
reasons, flood insurance is required as a condition of
receiving Federal or federally backed financing.
If I disagree with my lender's determination that I am in
a floodplain, what can I do?
In some cases, a lender determines that a property is in
the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), but the property owner
disagrees. The SFHA is also known as the 100-year floodplain.
It is more precisely defined as the floodplain associated with
a flood that has a 1-percent annual chance of being equaled or
exceeded in any given year. Therefore the SFHA is not a flood
event that happens once in a hundred years, rather a flood
event that has a one percent chance of occurring every year.
Property owners in this situation have a couple of options.
They may apply for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA), or a
Letter of Map Revision - based on Fill (LOMR-F) (if fill
placement is the basis of the request). In addition, property
owners may apply for a Letter of Determination Review (LODR).
Forms for these purposes can be found on our web site at http://www.fema.gov/mit/tsd/frm_main.htm.
The following paragraphs describe first the LOMA or LOMR-F
process, followed by the LODR process.
Upon receiving a completed MT-EZ (for LOMAs) or MT-1 (for
LOMR-Fs) application, FEMA reviews property-specific
information (including surveyed elevation data, typically the
elevation of the lowest adjacent grade of the structure in
question, provided by a licensed land surveyor Note: the
homeowner may be required to hire a land surveyor to perform
this elevation survey, if this data is not readily available),
and makes a final flood zone determination for the property.
Once an application and all necessary data are received, the
determination is normally issued within 30 - 60 days. If the
LOMA or LOMR-F removes the SFHA designation from the property,
it can then be presented to the lender as proof that there is
no Federal flood insurance requirement for the property.
However, even though a LOMA or LOMR-F may waive the Federal
requirement for flood insurance, a lender retains the
prerogative to require flood insurance. No fee is charged for
the review of a LOMA; however, there is a $425 review fee for
In addition, property owners may apply for a Letter of
Determination Review (LODR). A LODR is a review of your
lender's determination. In other words, the LODR is a process
where FEMA reviews the same information your lender used to
determine that your structure was located in a SFHA. It is
important to note that the LODR process does not consider the
elevation of the structure or property above the flood level.
Rather, it considers only the location of the structure
relative to the special flood hazard area boundary shown on
the FIRM. Thus, you should be aware that your lender does not
consider the elevation of your property or structure when
determining if your property or structure is in or out of the
SFHA. FEMA reviews this information and issues its finding of
whether the structure is located in the SFHA according to the
current NFIP map. The request for such a letter must be
jointly requested by the property owner and the lender no
later than 45 days following the date the lender notified the
borrower that the property is in a special flood hazard area.
While this determination cannot consider the elevation of your
structure or property, it can be useful if you feel the
lender's interpretation of the map is incorrect.
To summarize then, there are obviously some important
distinctions between the two processes (LODR vs LOMA / LOMR-F).
1. The determinations are based on different data.
The LODR process does not consider the (vertical) elevation
of the structure or property above the flood level. Rather, it
considers only the horizontal location of the structure
relative to the special flood hazard area boundary shown on
the Flood Insurance Rate Map. The LOMA/LOMR-F process uses
actual survey elevation data to determine if the property or
structure is at or above the elevation of the SFHA .
2. There are different fees involved.
3. The determinations result in different actions.
A LODR does not result in an amendment or revision to the
National Flood Insurance Program map. It is only our finding
regarding the structure's location with respect to a
delineated special flood hazard area.
A LOMA or LOMR-F actually removes the SFHA designation from
the property by letter.
Need additional help? call 1-877-FEMA MAP.
How and when do I get a refund if I do cancel my flood
If you were required to obtain flood insurance as a
condition of a loan and you were later determined to be
removed from the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) by a Letter
of Map Change (LOMC) (includes Letter of Map Amendment, Letter
of Map Revision based on Fill or Letter of Map Revision), you
may request a refund. However, the lender is not required to
waive your flood insurance requirement; the lender may decide
that flood insurance coverage is still required as a condition
of the loan.
To receive a refund, submit the LOMC to the lender and ask
that the lender waive the insurance requirement. Present the
written waiver from the lender, along with a copy of the LOMC,
to the insurance agent that sold you the policy and request a
refund. Refunds are not available if a claim has been made or
is pending against the policy.
I have questions about flood insurance. Who do I call?
Call your local, licensed casualty or property insurance
agent, call the National Flood Insurance Hotline at
1-800-427-4661, or see National
I want to receive a floodplain map from FEMA. Can I get it
You can see some floodplain data in the FEMA Map
Service Center on-line at fema.gov. You can call and order
all floodplain maps in the U.S. by calling toll-free
Additional FAQ's about Mapping
and Revising Flood Maps
Need additional help? call 1-877-FEMA MAP.
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