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.

Flood Insurance Guru | Service | Knowledge Base

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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