What are Flood Zones and What Do Flood Zones Mean?

Hello, Chris Greene here with The Flood Insurance Guru, where we have an educational background in emergency management with a specialization in hazard and flood mitigation. We can help guide you through what your flood insurance options are, what your flood risks are, and helping you mitigate and reduce those risk. Today, we're going to be talking about three types of flood zones. We're talking about flood zone X, flood zone A, and flood zone AE. The benefits of being in each one, the dangers of being in them, and what coverage is right for each zone. The first thing we're going to talk about is flood zone X, or what's called the minimum risk flood zone. Any time anybody hears this, they start cheering because this means that it's not mandatory. However, 30% of flooding actually occurs in flood zone X. The reason for that is a lot of flash flooding. Flood zone X does not have a base flood elevation and as I mentioned before, it's not required when it comes to your mortgage company, so a lot of people don't carry it. What happens is, when losses occur in this area, most people don't have it because it wasn't required.
For example, most of Houston that flooded was in a flood zone X and they were told they didn't need it. So, many of them either had to face bankruptcy or foreclosure because they couldn't afford to repair their houses. Also, one of the things to understand about flood zone X is most people think they can't get flood insurance in this zone because it's not what people say is in a flood zone. Everything's in a flood zone, this is just low risk. That's actually completely false. Flood zone X actually has some of the best rates out there. Because it's a preferred zone, FEMA would rather you be proactive when it comes to protecting your belongings and protecting your structure. For that reason, most of the time with flood zone X you've got a rate of between $300 and $500 a year. Something to also understand is that flood insurance does have to be paid up front, so there's no way to do a monthly payment or anything like that on there. When it comes to flood zone X, as I said it's minimum risk, it's not going to be required by your mortgage company, but it's recommended that you do carry flood insurance there because that's where a majority of flash flooding does occur.
The next zone we're going talk about is flood zone A. Flood zone A is an area that is undetermined when it comes to the base flood elevation. What the base flood elevation is is what FEMA has determined that in the likelihood of a flood the level that water would come up to. What happens is a lot of people go out and get an elevation certificate. What an elevation certificate is is basically a surveyor comes out and surveys your property and gives you the different elevations of your home, like the top and the bottom floor, lowest [inaudible 00:02:51] grade, maybe an attached garage, your crawlspace, your slab, or your basement. Then they can compare that to the base flood elevation so maybe they can get your flood zone changed. The problem with flood zone A is many times, as we mentioned before, there's no base flood elevation, so many people waste money getting an elevation certificate because it's not going to help them because there's nothing to compare it to. This is one of the risks of living in a flood zone A and not knowing, many times, about elevation certificates, because everybody thinks you have to have an elevation certificate in order to get a flood quote, which just isn't true. Especially on the private market. Generally, elevation certificates are not going to be required for you to get a policy through the private market.
When elevation certificates are going to be required is when your houses has been built after the first flood insurance rate map or 1974, whichever one comes later, or you've had a substantial improvement to a property that was built before 1974. These are really the only two situations of when you're going to need an elevation certificate. Many times, as I mentioned, it can't help you. However, in flood zone A you have to be cautious. Find out if there's a base flood elevation before reaching out to a surveyor to have them come out and survey your property and maybe you waste $700 - $800. You can reach out to any local insurance agent, who should be able to do what's called a zone determination. This is just determining what flood zone you're in and what the base flood elevation is. You can reach out to any local insurance agent. You can also reach out to us here at The Flood Insurance Guru when it comes to something like this.
The last zone that we're going to talk about is the highest risk possible outside the coast. This is called an AE zone. An AE zone is also known as a 100 year flood zone. An A zone is known as a 500 year. All these are probabilities of a flood occurring within a certain timeframe. As I mentioned, A is going to be your highest risk. This is where your premiums are going to be really high, in this particular zone. It's important to understand when you're purchasing a house how these kind of things can impact your mortgage. If you were to be put into a flood zone A, how do you get it changed? What are you options there? But, the majority of flooding does occur in flood zone AE because it is your zone. These are generally going to be areas that are along the river, or maybe these are areas that are really flat, where water is coming in from another level, like a creek or run-off or something like that. It's important to understand that flood zone A is going to be your highest risk possible and flood zone A and AE are both going to be required for you to carry flood insurance if you have a mortgage or an additional interest on the property.
When it comes to maybe getting those zones changed, there's certain processes you can go through, but today we just want to cover what flood zone X is? It is the minimum risk zone, where it's not going to be required, but remember about 30% of flooding does occur in flood zone X. A zone is generally going to be an area that may not have a determined base flood elevation, so before ordering an elevation certificate, make sure to verify with a local insurance agent or us here at The Flood Insurance Guru what zone you're in. In an AE zone an elevation certificate could greatly benefit you there if you're changing it from an AE to an A. It might change your rate $2,000 to $1,000 a year. Like what we recently did with a client who had flood insurance in Pelham, AE is going to be the highest risk out there. If you've got questions about these zones or you've got questions about other zones, you're not sure what flood zone you're in, you can always reach out to us. www.floodinsuranceguru.com. You can go to our Facebook or our YouTube channel, The Flood Insurance Guru. You can even give us a call. 205-451-4294. If you want to learn more about your flood insurance options when it comes to these zones, you can also fill out the form below.

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