Alabama is no stranger to flooding. Be this due to consistent rainfall to hurricanes making landfall near the state, almost throughout every year, Alabama will be a victim of this type of natural disaster.

Three Most Common Flood Zones in Alabama

Today, we want to do a deep dive into why flooding is very common in the state and discuss the three most common flood zones in The Heart of Dixie state.

Lookback on Alabama Floods

The state is no stranger to floods especially due to flash flooding. Most of the counties in the state face flood as one of the biggest challenges from heavy rains to tropical storms passing by.

Despite having only one named storm in the last quarter of this year, it doesn't mean everything will be calm. We're still seeing a lot of rainfall and persistent precipitations across the country. In most cases, these conditions are enough to cause enough flooding and damage to multiple areas.

Take note, this is without a tropical storm present and at the most extreme caused by monsoons. Why is this happening you might ask?

We can owe it to what's called the La Niña. La Niña is a "cold event" wherein trade winds are stronger than usual which pushes more warm water toward Asia. Being the exact opposite of El Niño which is commonly known as the "heat event" that leads to week-to-month long droughts in South America and California, La Niña is a mixed bag of weather conditions that are very unpredictable and usually exceed the expectations.

This generally causes some areas of the United States to be very dry while some get very wet. To give an example, 80% of Stanislaus County in California is experiencing very extreme to exceptional drought hence the "very dry" conditions. Add this to the already dried-up ecosystem due to the wildfires, it's no question why the drought continues in the state. However, it's equally important to note that these types of events may just be scratching the surface when it comes to the dangers it presents to locals.

On the other hand, if we look at areas like Washington, a lot of atmospheric river impacts are being felt due to La Niña hence causing floods in the area up to the northwestern regions even in British Columbia. We've also seen how the shift from having warm surface water to a much colder one impacts the weather in areas like Northern California. The northern part of the state recently had to face devastating damages due to atmospheric rivers causing an extreme rain event in the area.

These are just a few of the examples we're seeing in the past few weeks however this doesn't mean that everything ends there. We can still expect more effects of the "small girl" as we end the year and go through the winter season.

Most Common Zones in Alabama

There are three most common flood zones we see the cover of the households in Alabama, these are Flood Zone X, Flood Zone A, and Flood Zone AE.

Other than the letters you might be wondering how these flood zones differ, so we'll discuss that

Flood Zone X

If your property is "not in a flood zone" then you're most likely to be in a flood zone X. Generally this zone has the lowest flood risk due to its relative distance to floodplains where flooding commonly starts. This simply means that flood insurance generally isn't required since the probability of a flood or risk of flooding, and impact a building or property in such zones is much lower than other flood zones.

Keep in mind that we're talking about a low-risk zone and not a no-risk zone. This is generally due to flash floods being more commonly experienced by flood zone X which causes significant flood insurance losses due to the damages.

Some mortgage and/or insurance carriers would also call these preferred flood zones. This is called a preferred zone since it has more favorable rates for the homeowner and risks for the insurance carrier. Even with FEMA, being in a low-risk zone brings a lot of good things because Flood Zone X has lower rates even in flood-prone Alabama. 

As we move into Risk Rating 2.0 where flood zones don't impact flood insurance rates, if your property sits on a Flood Zone X, you won't be required to carry flood insurance. However, it's important to remember that 30% of flood insurance claims do come from the homes in Flood Zone X.

Flood Zone A

Let's say you move into someplace else and the property or building is marked as moderate to high-risk flood zones.  Flood insurance is mandatory in areas under Flood Zone A on a property(s) with a mortgage or any additional interests in the property or building.

Generally, this zone falls outside of the preferred zones due to higher changes and flood risk overall. In FEMA's legacy program, this is where you'd start seeing some significant increase in the rates of your flood insurance policy. 

Another important thing you should remember about Flood Zone A is that its base flood elevation isn't determined yet many times. This makes it a challenge for flood zone changes and flood maps since there's no assurance where the base flood elevation starts. You might wake up one day with your kid's teddy bear soaked under 3-feet of floodwater... or maybe not.

 

In this case, do keep in mind that when someone tells you to give your house an elevation certificate or you need flood vents for your home, you should always think carefully multiple times if you're standing on Flood Zone A; you wouldn't want your wallet drained of money.

In regards to Risk Rating 2.0, flood zone A simply means that you will be required by your mortgage or FEMA to carry flood insurance on your property. However, being in a higher-risk zone will no longer cause an increase or any impact on your premium rates.

Flood Zone AE

Lastly, the area where lifeboats should also be considered a necessity. All jokes aside, this zone has the highest risk when it comes to flood zones outside of the coasts and is also known as a 100-year flood zone.  Since Flood Zone AE has a 0.2% to 1%  flood threat at any given month and/or year as it's getting closer to the coast.

Unlike the previous high-risk zone, most properties in the AE zone have determined base flood zones. This is also why it's a higher-risk zone compared to the A zone. Due to this, FEMA and other floodplain management agree that certain conditions can be enough to cause small floods, flash flooding, or widespread floods in that area.

Like Flood Zone A, this zone also requires and mandates that a property must have flood insurance in place especially when there's a mortgage and/or any additional interests.

You don't have to worry since you have options in getting your flood insurance to secure your property values: the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or through the private market (private flood insurance). 

Not being aware that you're moving into a special flood hazard area can cause an immeasurable headache for your bank as flood insurance will be required no matter what, and when someone tells you to give your house an elevation certificate, you should probably consider getting one with some flood vents if possible as this can help lower your rates even in Risk Rating 2.0.

Despite removing flood zones as a basis of rating in Risk Rating 2.0, flood mitigations like installing flood vents, securing elevation certificates, elevating your home, and other mitigation efforts are appreciated and will bring you enough decrease to make that FEMA rating easier to manage.

Flood Insurance Guru: Alabama

For this part, we really want to share our experiences serving homeowners and business owners alike when it comes to the residential or commercial properties they want to protect from flood damage and flood loss.

Looking at our data over at Flood Insurance Guru, about 25% of the flood policies we were able to handle in Alabama are currently zoned in Flood Zone X. However, considering that there is impactful development when it comes to the behavior of water and frequency of runoff and flash floods, even low-risk zones aren't really that safe from flooding.

On the other hand, about 21.2% of the policies we have for Alabama are in Flood Zone A. This can be very alarming, if this number rings true to all properties in the state, as homeowners and floodplain management don't really have a clear insight when it comes to the base flood elevation for at least 20% of the properties across the state.

Lastly, in our database for the customers, we have from Alabama. At least 53.7% are mapped into Flood Zone AE. When it comes to floods, this means that more than half of the properties in Alabama have identified base flood elevation and also are more flood-prone due to possible floodplain devolvement.

As you can see, most of the properties in Alabama are in a flood zone. Regardless of being in a Flood Zone X, A, or AE, properties will still get flooded. Basically, saying that a house is "not in a flood zone" is a myth. We want to raise awareness for these types of things especially since flood insurance is something that you really don't have included in any other insurance.

If you have questions on your flood zone in Alabama,  what are your flood insurance options in the state, or anything related to flood and insurance, click the links below to reach us. You can also access our Flood Learning Center by clicking its graphic below.

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Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation which lets us help you understand your flood risks, flood zone, flood insurance, and protecting your property's value long-term.

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The federal flood insurance industry has changed a lot since the Risk Rating 2.0. One of the biggest changes is how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will look at flood zones. FEMA, NFIP, and mortgage lenders would have to only follow the new rating system and regulatory standards of the Risk Rating 2.0.

Are Preferred Flood Zones Gone?

As natural disasters are becoming progressively more destructive and unpredictable, we want to discuss how changes on looking at flood maps would change.

Risk Rating 2.0

The implementation of the Risk Rating 2.0 or simply NFIP 2.0 significantly impacts the rates going around with federal flood insurance. For the most part, this means that there will be an increase in rates as the new program gears towards a more accurate flood risk per property. We'd like to call this the fingerprint of your flood risk due to the nature of having an individual property getting a unique risk rating score.

This program basically says that each property will get a unique flood risk score per variable with the rating engine system in from both the legacy program from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and new things coming into consideration.

The things that will carry over from the legacy program which will still have a bearing on your flood insurance rates are as follows:

  • Flood zone designation based on community flood maps. Flood zones also have the bearing to require flood insurance if you're in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or High-Risk Zones
  • Flood Insurance Claims. Despite changing to a claims variable system, flood claims with FEMA may still impact your overall rates.
  • Policy assumption and policy transfer.
  • The Grandfather Rule.
  • Pre-FIRM and Newly Mapped discounts.

Are Preferred Flood Zones Gone?

The new things that will impact your rates will be from:

  • Types of flooding that your property experience.
  • Flood frequency.
  • Distance to any water source.
  • First-floor height or distance of the first livable area to grade (ground).
  • Elevation of the structure or the property itself. How high is the first floor of the property compared to the ground hence properties that are elevated are most likely to get a decrease due to this.
  • Replacement costs. This means that higher-valued homes will get an increase and lower-valued homes will get a decrease due to the overall expenses to rebuild the property due to flood damage.
  • Flood Risk Mitigation Measures made on the property.

Despite these changes to the overall rating engine systems in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), your flood insurance policy will still follow the same amount of $250,000 for building and $100,000 in contents max for flood coverage.

The Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) is also one of the things that will carry over from the legacy National Flood Insurance Program to this new program as well as the Community Rating System (CRS) discounts.

 

Are Preferred Flood Zones Gone?

Traditionally with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and even in private flood insurance companies, you'll see low-risk flood zones and special flood hazard areas (SFHA) or high-risk flood zones. I can even remember the time where I can tell your flood insurance premiums in these low-risk flood zones like Flood Zone X depending on the coverage amount. So you'd see immediately how these low-risk zones or preferred zones immediately impact your rates and these rates are about $400 to $600 per year.

On the other hand and you would notice with the new program through Risk Rating 2.0, flood zones no longer impact your flood insurance rates with FEMA and the NFIP. So the perks of being in a preferred zone and that preferred rate will no longer be in the picture. This means that federal flood insurance will no longer rely on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) to say that you will get a preferred rate since flood zones don't impact rates anymore.

Are Preferred Flood Zones Gone?

On the other hand, it's a different story when it comes to the private flood insurance industry. We're still noticing a lot of private flood carriers who look into these low-risk zones and provide that same preferred rating on premiums of about $400 to $600. It's important to note also that since these insurers are managed by private companies, they don't necessarily need to follow the changes coming to federal flood insurance.

Despite these changes and flood zones only becoming more of a factor that determines whether or not you're not required to buy flood insurance for your property, it's still important to get a form of security for a property. If you want us to help you get a desirable quote from both federal and private flood insurance, click the link below to reach us.

Buy Flood Insurance Now!

We also have a flood learning center where we try to answer your frequently asked questions about flood and flood insurance.

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Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation which lets us help you understand your flood risk, flood zone, flood insurance, and mitigating your property long-term.

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A lot of things will be changing once the new national flood insurance program kicks in next month. This will impact mostly rating as the new Risk Rating 2.0 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) aims to provide a more accurate representation of flood risks when it comes to flood insurance premiums.

Will NFIP 2.0 Stop People From Buying Flood Policy in Low-Risk Zones?

Today, we want to talk about the impacts of this new program and will it stop property owners from buying a  flood insurance policy for their homes even in the low-risk zones?

NFIP Risk Rating 2.0

The new program from FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is long-awaited and long overdue. It's been 30 years since FEMA last made an update this big. Let's do a quick recap of what's changing with federal flood insurance in order to better discuss how this will impact the participating communities across the United States.

The Risk Rating 2.0 will mostly impact the rating structure within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This is because flood zones will move into a regulatory force that comes into play with flood insurance instead of directly impacting the rates.

Here are the old and new things coming into the picture when it comes to how you're rated. All in all, this will be called the flood risk score.

The remaining features are as follows:

The new things that will come with the Risk Rating 2.0 are as follows:

  • Types of flooding that your property experience. This can be either pluvial or the accumulated water due to rain, runoff of collected water that flows from higher areas; coastal which are storm surge or coastal erosion; fluvial or river floods, or sometimes a combination of these.
  • First-floor height and elevation of the structure. A new feature that determines your flood risk score is the distance between the ground (grade) from your first floor or the first habitable floor of your property.
  • Flood risk mitigation measures made on the property. Is the lowest floor above the base flood elevation? Are there enough flood openings to let floodwaters through?

It's important to emphasize that the Risk Rating 2.0 will show different rates per household, and this new program is expected to cause an increase for most policyholders since we'll be able to see the risk of flooding on our property.

Impacts on Low-Risk Zones

When it comes to flood insurance, it's no secret that when you fall into a high-risk flood zone or high-risk area, your rates can really blow of the roof regardless if you're getting it from FEMA or the private insurers. However, once the Risk Rating 2.0 starts, a lot of properties in low-risk areas will also see a higher amount when it comes to their overall premium.

Since the risk of flood damage is very detailed, we can also expect these low-risk areas to get higher rates to match the flood coverage they will get from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Will NFIP 2.0 Stop People From Buying Flood Policy in Low-Risk Zones?

The rates for these flood policies in low-risk zones will also be relatively more expensive compared to the previous program although it would retain the same building coverage and contents coverage. This also directly increases the annual premium from FEMA.

This type of change in the industry is sure to scare a lot of new property owners and new flood insurance policyholders. A good portion of the population might even avoid getting flood insurance at the expense of their security against flood water just because it's a huge burden for their wallets.

The Big Problem

It's normal to see that people will start shying away from buying flood insurance since the rates and premiums from FEMA and the NFIP will get an increase. However, the big problem here is that a lot of people from property owners, agents, and mortgage lenders don't really look at their options.

The truth is that floods don't really stop at a flood zone, so even in low-risk areas, you can still get the same flood damage or chance of flooding with high-risk zones. This is especially true in seasons like we have now where a lot of hurricanes happen. Last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found out that at least 25% of the flood insurance claims come from properties that are in low-risk flood zones.

Will NFIP 2.0 Stop People From Buying Flood Policy in Low-Risk Zones?

You really don't need to be anxious about flood insurance rates and second-guess whether or not you should buy one. You should since we're talking about protection from flooding for your home and everything inside of it.

If you're one of the people who are thinking of not getting a policy due to the higher cost of flood insurance, you should know that there's always an option outside of federal flood insurance. You see, a lot of homeowners don't really know that there are dozens of private insurance companies which offer the same protection, coverage, or most times, even more, when it comes to flood insurance.

Going Private

We've talked a lot about the comparison between federal flood insurance and private flood insurance. We've created a lot of content solely focused on how these fair up in the flood insurance market from claims, coverage, pros, and cons. For this one, we want to focus on why it's best to have a second option through a private company when it comes to flood insurance.

Since flood insurance is a separate policy from your standard homeowner's insurance policy, most of the time, and depending on your loan type, your mortgage lender will allow you to choose where to get flood insurance. This can really be a big deal especially for those in high-risk flood areas like flood zone A where flood insurance will be required with the property.

READ: The Rematch: NFIP 2.0 vs Private Flood

Private flood insurance can also have your back when it comes to building coverage and contents coverage. Most of the private flood insurance companies would also offer additional coverages like replacement costs, additional living expenses, or loss of use.

The great thing about private flood is that it costs significantly cheaper with more flexible coverage compared to federal flood insurance. This is that "get more, pay less" aspect that really helps a lot of homeowners get protected even when they're in a flood-prone area.

Simply put, there are no coverage limits with private flood hence you can get more than $250,000 for your house and more than $100,000 in flood insurance coverage for your personal property or contents within that building.

Other than the flood insurance cost, you also have a better and shorter waiting period. The NFIP can have your policy take effect on your house after the 30-day waiting period from the date of the flood insurance purchase whereas private carriers can get your policy to take effect on the insured building within 5 to 14 days maximum.

The Real Threat

We understand that seeing standard flood insurance policy rates go high can really scare anyone. We're currently going through a pandemic still and a lot of expenses are needed. However, it's important to keep in mind that the real threat doesn't fall within the policy jacket or its costs. The real threat is when that water starts inundating your house.

It's always best to make sure that you're protected through flood insurance.

If you have any questions on how to buy flood insurance from the private market, the NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 impacts, or anything about flood insurance, click below to reach us.

Get Your Flood Risk Score Here!

Buy Flood Insurance Now!

Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation which lets us help you understand flood risks, your flood insurance, your options, and mitigating your property long-term.

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Flood Zones Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama is an area that is rapidly growing and always having flood zones changed.

We hear from people in areas like Madison Alabama or Owens Cross Roads Alabama. Why I am in a flood zone I wasn't last year.

Before we give an explanation of that remember everyone is in a flood zone and we will discuss flood zones in Huntsville Alabama in just a minute.

There are a couple of reasons why you might be notified that your Huntsville property is now in a special flood hazard area.

  1. Bank change
  2. Map change

Its not uncommon for when your mortgage is sold that your new bank pulls information that maybe your old bank didn't have before. We see it with small and large banks in Alabama everyday.

Many times banks or mortgage companies use different 3rd parties to verify this information. We have even seen where a bank had the wrong flood zone for more than 7 years.

So what can you do to fight the bank on the flood insurance. Unfortunately these banks are federally regulated so there are only ways to get this removed. You could order a letter of determination review which can take about 45-60 days to get back and there is usually a small charge.

The 2nd option is to appeal the flood zone. This is done through the letter of map amendment process. While it may not be required getting an elevation certificate is usually the best route here.

You can order one by clicking here.

This will tell you the different elevations of your property compared to the base flood elevation. FEMA looks at this to decide if you qualify for this letter of map amendment. You can also contact us to do a deeper review of this. This process still takes 30-60 days to get approved in the Huntsville Alabama area.

Now lets look at that 2nd reason why you might have been notified your property is in the special flood hazard area.

FEMA is always working with Huntsville Alabama communities on updating flood zones. When these zones have been agreed on by FEMA and the communities then flood zones are updated.

This process is called newly mapped areas. These are areas of Huntsville that go from a low risk area to a high risk area. The National Flood Insurance Program offers special rates to Huntsville residents for 12 months after this happens.

Now that we have discussed a few reasons why this might happen lets look at these flood zones.

                               Flood Zones in Huntsville Alabama

There are three flood zones in the Huntsville Alabama area that we want to discuss.

  1. Flood zone X
  2. Flood Zone A
  3. Flood Zone AE

Lets discuss flood zone x and the Huntsville Alabama area. The majority of the area falls within flood zone x. This is considered to be a minimal risk zone.

 

So is flood insurance required in flood zone x in Huntsville Alabama?

While it's not required it is recommended. If a property is in a flood zone x the bank is generally not going to require it unless maybe the property has flooded before.

So can these areas of Huntsville still flood?

Yes that is why it is recommended to buy flood insurance in Huntsville Alabama. These areas usually have the best rates on flood insurance because they are in preferred flood zones.

The residents of Muscle Shoals Alabama learned this lesson the hard way in 2019. Nathans Estates in Muscle Shoals Alabama was completely under water in early 2019 and it was in a flood zone.

So then what flood zones in Huntsville Alabama do require flood insurance?

The next two zones fall within the special flood hazard area. These are the areas that are at high risk of flooding according to FEMA and where banks will require flood insurance.

The first one is flood zone A.

So what is flood zone A?

 

Flood zone a is an area that falls within the 1% chance of flooding. Flood zone A many times has not had flood insurance study report done. This means it may not have a base flood elevation.

The video below explains flood zone A a little bit better.

 

The base flood elevation is the area FEMA thinks flood waters could come up to.

The other flood zone in the Huntsville Alabama area is flood zone AE

So what is flood zone AE?

 

Like flood zone A flood zone AE is also part of the special flood hazard area. The big difference here is that AE generally has a base flood elevation to compare the risk to. 

So the three main flood zones to Know in Huntsville Alabama are flood zone X, flood zone A, and Flood Zone AE.

If you want to check your flood zone you can click here.

If you have further questions about flood zones or flood insurance options in Huntsville Alabama then click here. We will be happy to review these with you.

You can also checkout our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or even check out our podcast.

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation. These means we are here to help understand your flood risks, flood insurance, and mitigating your property long term.

 

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