This is no April Fool's joke, but a big change is coming to the claims process and rating for federal flood insurance.

In this article, we want to discuss the changes to the claims variable and how your flood insurance premiums are going to be impacted by the new claims rating system with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). We want to discuss three (3) things that you to know about this upcoming change to flood insurance on April 1st, 2023.

Flood Insurance Claims

First, let's cover how flood insurance claims can impact not only your flood insurance policy but also how risks are viewed for your property or home.

When it comes to the federal side of flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), flood claims can directly impact your rates. This happens in two forms with Risk Rating 2.0: the Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) and the Claims Variable. As a policyholder, it's important to keep in mind these keywords.

3 Things to Know: FEMA's Claims Rating Factor Changes on April 1st

The Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) list for properties indicates that the property has filed more than one flood claim in a 10-year period. Generally, this indicates a higher risk for flooding and will in turn impact the flood insurance premiums of a certain policy.

The claims variable on the other hand is the newer claims rating factor that was introduced with Risk Rating 2.0. Initially, this new system will clean the policyholder's flood claim history and start from scratch.

5 Tips When Purchasing Flood Insurance

However, if a claim is filed and paid out, the policyholder will see a potential increase in premium rates as FEMA will conduct a 20-year lookback where they will count all of the flood claims made during that period. This claim variable will produce a number that becomes a multiplier for the rates and is dependent on the number of claims made during that period.

But what are the coming changes to claims with FEMA for April 1st, 2023?



One of the big things to have changed when it comes to federal flood insurance claims rating factor is dates.

Previously, if you were to file a claim under Risk Rating 2.0 with FEMA, they will start to do a 20-year lookback which means that they will look at all the claims made on the property for flood insurance for the past 20 years. The number of claims made will be used as a claim variable which acts as a multiplier for your flood insurance rates.

This lookback is changed to only do a look back for 10 years only. This can make it easier for property owners to avoid a higher claim variable.

3 Things to Know: FEMA's Claims Rating Factor Changes on April 1st

Another change that involves dates is more focused on when FEMA's claim rating factor kicks in. Previously, any and all claims made during Risk Rating 2.0 will immediately trigger the claim review. These claims may be from any time prior to April 1st, 2023.

Basically, all of the claims made in the past 20 years regardless of the date will be sent as part of the review. Generally, this could also mean that there will be higher rates due to having a higher claim variable. 3 Things to Know: FEMA's Claims Rating Factor Changes on April 1st

For this new update, you will have to file a claim on April 1st, 2023, or later for the claim review triggered. This simply gives more leniency and a chance for property owners to get more breathing space before claims impact their rates.

This is important because...


Before this upcoming update, even if you file just a single claim during Risk Rating 2.0 — which means any flood insurance claims made before April 1st, 2023 — will immediately trigger the review. This can really hurt especially with how flooding behavior has changed in the past decade.

With this update, you will now have to file 2 claims within this 10-year period for the claim review to be triggered.

 3 Things to Know: FEMA's Claims Rating Factor Changes on April 1st

We recently had a customer who had these troubles with the previous system where they had two flood claims made in the last 20 years but only one in the last ten years. In the Risk Rating 2.0 claim review, this meant that both claims will be part of the claims variable however with this update, only one of them will be considered. 

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Let's move into another category in this update which concerns more about what types of claims are excluded in the Risk Rating 2.0 review and which ones are excluded in this April 1st, 2023 update.

Previously, the only exclusions are for Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) and Closed Without Payment (CWP). So this meant that if you filed a Loss Avoidance Claim, you will see this included. Generally, this meant that the previous system also uses Loss Avoidance Claims to trigger the claim review.3 Things to Know: FEMA's Claims Rating Factor Changes on April 1st

With this new update, Loss Avoidance Claims will be added to the exclusions. These are claims made for helping your property avoid damage from flooding which includes things like sandbagging, and creating temporary levees, or water pumps to name a few. Generally, this goes around for $1,000 with a standard flood insurance policy.

So you can imagine that if these are still to be included with the rating factor for claims, it could really become a burden for policyholders, but that won't be the case anymore.

You can see the full breakdown of what we discussed here:

3 Things to Know: FEMA's Claims Rating Factor Changes on April 1st

These are the upcoming changes to how flood insurance claims work with federal flood insurance. If you are ready to take the next steps to get the right flood insurance coverage then there are three simple steps.

  • Fill out this form — Get A Quote
  • Talk with our flood education specialist.
  • Get back to the important things in your life.

Got more flood insurance questions? Visit our Flood Learning Center below to know more:

Flood Insurance Guru - Flood Learning Center

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?

In the latter part of March 2021, for three consecutive weeks, the community of Birmingham, Alabama experienced severe weather however unlike the past two weeks, flooding and strong winds presented a threat to the city. We observed the saturation of land causing trees to fall and the Smith Lake becoming the culprit to the flood damage to the area. This can really be alerting for this region since it does look like the state is experiencing flooding that's becoming worse each time.

Now, when it comes to flood insurance, this can directly impact you whether you're doing a policy with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) under FEMA or the Private Flood Insurance market. Let's talk about how this can impact you and the things you need to know when it comes to your flood insurance policy when you experience flooding like this.

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?

Now, it's important to note that there will be flood insurance rates increase in the future due to your Birmingham community becoming more flood-prone in a short period of time. If the flood map also shows that the area should be considered under Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), then the flood insurance rates can be expected to become more expensive with FEMA and the NFIP. However, this can also mean a good impact if you're doing a policy with FEMA and the NFIP then you might be able to go through the Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage. 

What is the ICC?

The Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage is an additional property coverage provided by FEMA through the National Flood Insurance Program. This generally provides additional money for the property's flood mitigation compliance purposes of up to $30,000 in order to reduce the flood risk in the future. It's important to note that the increased coverage will be separate from your standard flood insurance property coverage of $250,000 if it's a residential property and up to $500,000 if it's a commercial building.

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?

It's most likely that you're eligible for the ICC if you're one of the impacted properties by the Smith Lake flooding in Alabama. The eligibility for this requires that the property should either be substantially damaged or is considered a repetitive loss.

ICC Eligibility

When we say substantially damaged, this means that the property owner experienced a flood loss on his home that's worth 40 to 50 percent of the house's market value. This means that if you were flooded and the total damage is less than 40% of the house's market value, then you won't be able to get ICC coverage. Now this can be crucial since the market value of properties over at Birmingham and Smith Lake is very high, so you're really going to have to be very careful on reporting the total damage on your residence if you're looking to be eligible through this condition. 

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?

Repetitive Loss, on the other hand, means that a property has had two or more flood claims over the last 10 years. Loss history includes all of the ownership on the building since 1978 or since the building's construction after 1978.

What's Flood Mitigation Compliance

When we say flood mitigation compliance, this means that the structure of the building itself should meet the floodplain management ordinances set either by the federal government or the local community. Now,  there are four accepted floodplain management activities when it comes to complying with FEMA's flood mitigation standards: elevation, floodproofing, relocation, and demolition.


When we say elevation, this means that the goal of the activity is to raise your property's lowest adjacent grade above the base flood elevation (BFE) of your community. This means that you have to elevate your property's lowest flood at least a foot above the base flood elevation.

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?


For this activity, it's important to note that this is only for non-residential properties. This requires that the commercial properties should be watertight below the BFE by reinforcing your walls, installing a watertight shield for doors and windows, building a drainage collection system, sump pumps, and check valves.

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?


When a property's being relocated, it simply means that you're going to move to another location on the same lot or another lot, but in order to meet compliance standards, you want to make sure that you're at least moving in a lower-risk area. There's no problem with relocating to a new location within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or the 100-year flood zone however you're still going to have to make sure that it's going to be compliant with FEMA still. This can be the greatest flood prevention activity that really helped a lot of homeowners avoid the impact of major flooding and significantly reducing the risk of flooding on their property.

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?


Lastly, this activity is only done when the first three are no longer a viable option due to the flood damage being too severe for your property. Now, it can still be possible that you can redevelop the building after demolition however it's important to make sure that the laws and requirements of the Federal, State, and community are followed. 

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?

Beyond Flood Insurance 

Now, it's also important to shed light on the possible negative impacts of lake flooding and the future risk of flooding in the area on your overall flood insurance purchase. If you're doing private flood insurance, then this could mean that they may choose to pull out from providing Birmingham, Alabama flood insurance due to the high risks that it's presenting to the table. Since FEMA doesn't choose their risks, severe repetitive loss as we mentioned before is a condition to be eligible for the ICC coverage, but private flood may see this as a red flag to continue providing flood policies and decide to non-renew.

It's still important to note that private flood is still a fair market with its own standards and guidelines. In fact, the ICC coverage usually is included in the property's coverage if you're doing a private flood insurance policy.

The Flood Insurance Guru | Will the Smith Lake Flooding Impact my Birmingham, AL Flood Insurance?

If you have questions on FEMA ICC coverage, if you're eligible for it, your flood insurance options, or any question about flood, feel free to reach out to us. We'll keep our doors open for you! You can click the links below to get started or watch and subscribe to our YouTube channel where we post flood education videos daily.

Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation and we want to share this knowledge with you, so you can be prepared when crap happens.

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