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.

 

Contact Us

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation
flood@communityfirstagency.com

 

Flood insurance rates can be all over the board. Someone might have a rate of $450 in Birmingham Alabama then someone might have a rate of $2000 in Tuscaloosa Alabama.

So how much is too much for flood insurance in Alabama?

Well before we can really answer that question we need to look at some factors that can impact flood insurance in Alabama.

  1. Elevation
  2. Foundation
  3. Type of Coverage

So lets take a brief look at some things above that can impact flood insurance in places like Tuscaloosa, Pell City, Demopolis, Huntsville, and Birmingham Alabama.

Elevation plays a major role in flood insurance rates. As you can see with the photo below. The further your property is below the base flood elevation the higher your flood insurance premiums can be.

So the rate for a property that is negative -1 foot and a property that is -3 feet could be hundreds of dollars.

Now lets look at foundation types. Your foundation type could play a major role on your flood insurance premiums. Alabama homes are known for having basements which could cause many homes to have a more negative number on their elevation.

Homes with above grade crawlspaces could have an advantage if they have flood vents installed properly. If these things are down properly this may not count as your lowest rated floor. So while the elevation of the crawlspace might be -1 but the next floor is +2 this could serve as a great benefit to the premiums on a flood insurance policy.

Lets look at the 3rd factor which is the type of coverage. This could go a few ways whether you are using the property for commercial or residential use. Then there is the factor if it is considered to be residential or a non residential building.

Remember in order for a commercial property to be considered residential 75% of the living space has to be used for residential purposes.

As you can see there can be alot of different factors.

So lets get back to the question how much is too much for flood insurance in Alabama?

It depends if we are talking about the National Flood Insurance Program or a private flood insurance policy in Alabama. While all the rates with the National Flood Insurance Program should be the same many times lack of knowledge on the insurance agents part could cause you to see a difference.

On the private flood insurance side each carrier sets their rates based on the underwriting factors they use to insure a property.

These can be different from FEMA for example some companies will not insure properties in the 20 year flood plain or properties that are in the flood way.

Want to know what a floodway is?

 

So at the end of the day whether you decide to go with the National Flood Insurance Program or a private flood insurance policy its all about what your budget is and what you feel comfortable paying each year. Its also important to understand that these rates can go up from year to year.

So if you have further questions about flood insurance rates in Alabama then make sure to click here.

You can also checkout our YouTube channel where we do daily flood education videos. You can also check out our podcast.

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation this means we can help you understand your flood insurance, flood risk, and mitigating your property long term.

 

Start My Flood Insurance Quote

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation
flood@communityfirstagency.com

 

I come from a pretty educated family. My dad was a physicist, my mom was a school teacher, my brother is an engineer, and all my siblings have at least a masters degree.

However it wasn't suppose to be that way for me. If you have read my other blogs then you know I grew up with a learning disability and college was not even suppose to be in the picture but because of two special educators and determination I was able to graduate top of my class for my masters degree.

However sometimes it feels that this education can hurt people in life. I remember when i was in college all of my college professors had no real work experience.

 

Books on desk in library at the elementary school

What I mean by this is they went straight into teaching and many from a book they wrote. For example I had this college professor who had written every book on management but had never managed a single person in his life.

This is one reason I have always said I would one day return to be a college professor and teach based on the experience I had gained in life.

Enough about that let's look at a recent article by AL.com that ranks the education across the state. This article ranked each county based on college experience and degrees. Overall the state fell about 9 points below the U.S. average.

There were three counties that ranked above the U.S. average which where Shelby, Madison, and Lee county.

I am sure no one is surprised by Lee county War Eagle!

However today we want to take a closer look at Shelby and Madison counties. These two counties represent a portion of the two largest cities in Alabama. Shelby county which is a part of the metro Birmingham area is home to some incredible schools like the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Madison which is near the NASA Rocket Center and the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

Something else these two areas have in common is they are some of the most flood prone areas in the state. It feels like since 2019 the Huntsville Alabama area has had a flood warning every other week. Then areas of Shelby county like Pelham and Alabaster have been threatened by flooding for years.

So knowing this you would think that these areas have a higher amount of active flood insurance policies?

Right....

Not exactly according to FEMA these areas do not even make up a combined 10% of the states active flood policies. In fact Shelby county is less than 1.6%.

Pretty crazy right?

When it comes to understanding flood awareness you need a little bit of book smart and common sense. Yes its a numbers game but its important to understand that everybody is at risk of flooding.

Common sense says if you are near a source of water you could flood.

I can't tell you how many people we talk to Alabama every week that say there is no way their property will ever flood.

Then there was the property owner in Centre Alabama that said if he knew his lake house was going to flood he would not have stored his wife's wedding dress there without coverage.

It's important to know if you have a college degree, a high school diploma, or not even a GED that every property is in a flood zone it's just a matter of how much water it takes to get to you.

So maybe you have more questions about how to protect your Birmingham or Huntsville Property from flooding? How to purchase flood insurance or if you have enough coverage. Then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on YouTube.

 

Contact Us

 

 

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation
flood@communityfirstagency.com

 

When most people think about flooding they normally think about areas like the coast. They don't think about inland areas like Birmingham Alabama, Huntsville Alabama, Hoover Alabama or even Montgomery Alabama. This is one reason why many times insurance agents, realtors, lenders, and property owners are not aware of the flood insurance options in Alabama.

In this blog we are going to particularly talk about private flood insurance in Alabama and everything you need to know about.

The majority of people in Alabama still think the only flood insurance option available in Alabama is through the National Flood Insurance Program.

However this simply is not the case. Private flood insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program are both available in Alabama. Private flood insurance has really made a push into Alabama in the last 10 years.

However before you start rushing to the private flood insurance market there are some things you need to know.

  1. Who qualifies?
  2. What does admitted and non admitted mean?
  3. What coverages are available?
  4. Pricing
  5. Claims process

Qualifications

So let's talk about  who qualifies for private flood insurance in Alabama?

Be Prepared sign with clouds and sky background

Almost any body can qualify for private flood insurance in Alabama except those that are on the severe repetitive loss property list.

This is a property FEMA has designated because of a certain number of flood losses within a certain time frame.

There are a few things that could disqualify you based on the private flood insurance company. For example some private flood insurance companies will not insure a property that has had any flood loss, then there are some that only restrict it within the last 5 years, and then there are some that restrict it to just none claim within the last 5 years.

Something else that could disqualify you for private flood insurance in Alabama is the type of loan you may have on a property?

FHA loans restrict flood insurance options to only the National flood insurance Program, so this is one thing that could disqualify you. While other loan types in Alabama do allow private flood insurance it still has to meet certain guidelines.

Loans Concept. Word on Folder Register of Card Index. Selective Focus.-1

In order for banks to accept private flood insurance it has to meet the U.S.C 402C. which is the private flood insurance standard of being the same as the National Flood Insurance Program.

The reason for this is because it's a different type of program.

Private flood insurance in Alabama is broken into two different categories. You have non admitted and admitted.

So whats the difference?

Admitted insurance companies are companies that are licensed to do business in a state. They have to follow certain state laws and consumers have certain protections if the company goes out of business.

Non admitted insurance companies are not licensed in a state but are still allowed to do business there. They do not have to follow the same state laws but do have other guidelines they have to follow. Consumers do not have protection if these companies go out of business. Non admitted companies can also charge different fees that admitted companies can not.

It's important to know as of 2020 Alabama does not have any admitted carriers for private flood insurance.

So what coverages are available?

 

Private Flood Insurance Coverages

Well this is where private flood insurance in Alabama can be very beneficial. Private flood insurance offers unique coverages on commercial and residential flood insurance in Alabama.

Let's look at residential flood insurance first. The National Flood Insurance Program only offers up to $250,000 on buildings and $100,000 on contents. Private flood insurance can go up into the millions on building coverage. They also offer additional living expenses so if your property floods then you would have a temporary place to stay. This can be really important if repairs take 3-6 months.

Now let's look at the commercial coverages. The National Flood Insurance Program only offers building coverage up to $500,000. As you can imagine this would not go very far on a commercial building. Private flood insurance also offers coverages into the millions here. One major thing that the National Flood Insurance Program does not offer is business interruption coverage. This is a critical coverage for a commercial flood insurance policy.

Let's look at an example of where you would use this coverage. Let's say that you own apartment complexes in Birmingham Alabama. Its been an usually wet few months and the Cahaba river starts to overflow causing water to enter the apartments.

Apartment building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Well residents can't live in these apartments until the repairs have been done.

Let's say that 30 units are damaged and you rent them for $1000 a unit. If it takes 3 months to repair them then thats $90,000 you could be out of pocket. However a private flood insurance policy could cover this expense. As you can imagine this could send some business owners into bankruptcy.

Now that we have a good understanding on the differences in coverage lets discuss pricing.

 

Pricing

We hear from people everyday in the Birmingham and Huntsville Alabama area that all flood insurance is the same. While this technically is the case for a National Flood Insurance Program policy. This is not the case for private flood insurance. Each flood carrier looks at risk differently. The two things that most are looking at are the elevations of the building and the location to flood risk in the area. FEMA is using their outdated flood maps and private flood insurance companies are using different technologies.

Because of this its not unusual for private flood insurance in Alabama to be 40% cheaper than the National Flood Insurance Program.

So what about claims?

 

Private Flood Insurance Claims

We can talk about all the other stuff all day long. However at the end what matters is when you have a claim you are covered and its a smooth process. FEMA claims can take 6 months to a year to settle if it is a smooth process. What about private flood insurance claims?

We had a client in Centre Alabama that suffered a total flood loss in 2019 from the flooding. While this customers neighbors were still battling with FEMA after 6 months he had is private flood insurance claim settled within 60 days. Since it was a total loss they paid off the mortgage.

We had the exact same thing happen with a client in Nebraska where they settled within 60 days and everyone else was waiting on FEMA.

So before jumping into the private flood insurance market in Alabama it's important to ask the questions we have discussed today. This will help you understand the type of company you are dealing with and confident that the claims process will go smoothly.

So if you have questions about private flood insurance in Alabama then make sure to visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

 

Contact Us

 

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation
flood@communityfirstagency.com

 

 

Online real estate sites like Zillow and Realtor.com have had a major impact on the real estate market over the last 5 years. You can almost find out instantly what your house will be sold for, however there are some misleading things on these sites. Sometimes the square footage might be wrong, the year built, or even the foundation type.

As you can imagine these things could have a big impact on what you could sell your house for in Huntsville Alabama. Having the lowest home inventory in 20 years can also magnify this issue.

However these things could be having an even bigger impact on your flood insurance premiums.

Everybody uses these sites now from realtors to home buyers to insurance agents. It makes it very easy to get the information you need to do a home insurance quote or a flood insurance quote if you are an insurance agent.

You might even be a potential buyer using this information to get your flood insurance quote.

STOP right there that is the wrong way!

IMG_1996

As we mentioned before these sites are not always 100% accurate. For example we were just reviewing a listing in Huntsville Alabama for potential home buyer where the property was in a special flood hazard area. We were reviewing everything on the home and noticed when it comes to flood insurance some things were different.

  1. Foundation type
  2. Year built
  3. Update details
  4. Estimated value

You see the North Alabama MLS and the online sites had the home listed with a basement, but when we reviewed it there was not a single side of the property that was underground. FEMA's definition of a basement is a property that has all sides of the home below grade.

When it comes to flood insurance this home was actually considered to be on a slab. Had this home been quoted with a basement it could have had some major exclusions for coverages on the first level as well as significantly higher flood premiums.

Now lets use the other example that confuses alot of people and that is when its listed as a basement when its really a crawlspace.

This mistake could have a significant difference on flood premiums. Sometimes the mistake is not caught for a few years. If you have a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program they normally request pictures which can prevent this from happening. However if its a private flood insurance policy they may not request these documents and there is no getting this flood insurance premium back from previous years.

So how can updated details impact the property?

So say the site says the home was built in 1950 which makes it a pre firm structure but it was updated in 2004. It list many of the things that were updated but what it doesn't tell you is the home was torn down to the foundation and redone.

As a result FEMA no longer considers this a pre firm structure but instead it is a substantially improved structure. As a result the year built is considered to be 2004. Since the home is in a special flood hazard area an elevation certificate would be required if you decided to do a policy with the National Flood Insurance Program. The rating system could also be completely different since it is no longer a Pre Firm structure.

Estimated value might be one of the most common things that is off with these sites. Now it's always recommended that you reach out to a realtor so you can get accurate values of the market value of the home. Using the estimated value on these sites as an insurance agent can be very dangerous. Whether it is flood insurance or something else this could easily underinsure a property owner. Then what happens is when a claim occurs they may not get the coverage need to replace or repair the home.

This is one major complaint that property owners had in east Alabama on Weiss lake and Lake Logan Martin after the 2019 flooding event.

Many of these property owners either had the loan amount listed on the flood insurance or what they thought the homes value should be. The problem with alot of these sites is they use market value on these amounts and for flood insurance replacement cost is used.

So whats the difference?

Market value is the value someone thinks they could sell their home for.

Replacement cost is what it would actually take to rebuild the home.

As you can imagine when its a bad real estate market there could be a huge difference in these amounts.

So let's say that you bought that house on Lake Logan Martin in 2010 not long after the market crash. You got a great deal on it and got a great rate on the flood insurance.

It might not be as a good of a deal as you think. You might want to pull out that flood insurance policy in see what amount of coverage is listed on there.

I imagine you only have $75,000- $100,000 in coverage when you should have $150,000-$175,000 in coverage. You might not have that much coverage we recently had a client come to us that only had $85,000 in coverage on a 3000 square foot house. As you can imagine this $85,000 in coverage would not have gone very far on a 3000 square foot house.

So we have addressed some issues when using these online real estate sites. Remember while these tools can be great for getting information, you always want to verify this information with a licensed realtor.

So if you have questions about making sure your flood insurance policy is accurate or learning more about what flood insurance options in Huntsville Alabama are available then visit our website. You can also check out our daily flood education videos on our YouTube channel or Facebook page. If you are on the run then check out our daily podcast here.

 

Contact Us

 

Chris Greene

Author

Chris Greene

President of The Flood Insurance Guru
M.S. in Emergency Management with a focus in Flood Mitigation
flood@communityfirstagency.com