Florida Flood Zones: Facts Homeowners Need to Know
Florida may be known as the Sunshine State, but those of us who live here know that sudden rain showers and hurricanes are not uncommon. When hurricanes threaten, or when the weather turns extremely rainy, flooding is a real concern for many Florida homeowners.
What is a Flood Zone?
A flood zone is an area that has been studied to determine the risk it will flood. The cause of a flood event could be due to tidal conditions, an intense storm, or other natural disaster causing a storm surge with increased water levels in oceans, rivers or lakes. Other factors can increase the risk of a flood, such as your property’s distance to the coast or water location, elevation of the property, drainage and runoff, or other local conditions. The areas listed as flood zones have been carefully analyzed to determine and assess flood related risks.
Flood zones exist to protect and educate property owners. Many homes that are not near water can have high flooding risks due to their location or elevation. Flood zones were created to ensure homeowners could plan for any unexpected flooding disasters.
How are Flood Zones Determined?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) assess land areas and define them by zones based on the risk of flood damage.
In order to help communities and homeowners understand the risks of any particular area, they have developed Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs, which show the location of each flood zone. If you are unsure of what flood zone your home is in, you can search a map of your location and determine the risk to your property.
What are the Flood Zone Categories?
Flood zones are defined by how risky the locations are to experience a flood. There are six categories of flood zones:
This is a high risk zone in a Special Flood Hazard Area that is expected to experience a flood at least once within a 100 year period. Homes and buildings in high risk areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance to protect their property (Floods, art.gov).
These areas are expected to experience flooding once in a 500 year period. In some instances, the frequency of flooding is higher, but with only minimal depths. Moderate to low-risk areas typically do not carry the same requirements for flood insurance for homes or businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders. However, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. Opting for flood insurance may be wise, even if it isn’t federally required (Floods, art.gov).
This zone is at minimal risk of flooding damage, and is generally the most desireable location. Owning property in Zone C does not require any flood insurance, though it is still generally recommended.
Areas that have not been studied and analyzed for flooding risks and are not involved in the flood zone program.
Flood insurance is mandatory in these areas, as they are Coastal Flood Hazard Areas that can experience both flooding and severe coastal tide conditions.
This new flood zone designation was designed to provide clarity between properties labeled as Zone B or Zone C. Some of these properties, those with a mortgage, require flood insurance while others do not. This category helps clarify the difference in some situations.
There are no areas that are completely free from the risk of flooding in Florida. Flooding can happen anywhere, and everyone lives in a flood zone; the difference is whether you live in a high, low, or moderate risk area. Consider protecting your family and property with a flood insurance policy.
If you believe your insurance company is wrongfully denying your homeowner’s insurance claim, contact Haahr Law for help. Contact us today for a case evaluation.