Finding out a listing is in a high risk flood zone can cause panic with sellers and realtors. However it doesn't have to be that way. We are going to discuss 5 things to do when you find out a listing is in a high risk flood zone.


So let's talk about what 5 things to do when you find out a listing is in a high risk flood zone.

  1. Verify what flood zone the property is located in
  2. Verify if the property owners have a flood policy
  3. Verify any flood losses on the property
  4. Verify where the structure is located
  5. verify when flood map changed or will change


Verify the Flood Zone

At The Flood Insurance Guru we recommend verifying the current flood zone three different ways. First of all check tax records and the FEMA Map Service site. This should give you a pretty good idea of what flood zone the property is in. You will also want to have a bank and an insurance agent do a flood zone determination. You want to do this for a couple of reasons. First of all insurance agencies and banks use different 3rd party vendors to verify these flood zones many times. As a result they could have different zones. The other reason is what have the bank or mortgage company pulls generally has to be used.


It's important that the insurance policy flood zone and the mortgage company flood zone match. If they do not then financing could be declined. It's also important that you show the mortgage company what pulls on the FEMA Map Service as it could help when any flood zone disputes. So You have verified the flood zone now what?

Is there a Flood Policy on the Property

When listing a home that is in a high risk flood zone it's very important that you verify if there is a current flood policy in place. If this is the case why would there not be a flood policy in place. Well there could not be a flood policy in place for numerous reasons. The most common is there is no mortgage on the property and the property owner did not know the property was located in a special flood hazard area.

So you have verified that there is a flood policy on the property, does it matter what kind of policy? The type of policy that is on the property could have a huge impact on the property selling. Let's talk about the two types of policies that could be on the property.

              Two Types of Flood Policies

There are two types of flood insurance policies. There is the National Flood Insurance Program also known as NFIP and then there is private flood insurance. Below is a comparison of the two programs



  • Government flood program                                                           
  • Rates and guidelines set by government
  • $250,000 on building
  • $100,000 on contents
  • Policy transfer available
  • Only flood program for FHA Loans


Private Flood

  • Backed by private flood insurance companies
  • Rates and guidelines set by each company
  • Coverages not limited to $250,000 on buildings
  • Coverages not limited to $100,000 on contents
  • Policies not transferable
  • Available on all loan types except FHA


In looking at these two flood insurance options it's important to understand which policy the property owner has on the property. Let's say they have an NFIP policy then that means that the policy could probably be transferred from one property owner to the next. This has a few benefits that are listed below.


Policy transfer benefits

  • Continuous coverage credit
  • No payment up front
  • flood zone rate protected if no longer available

Above we discussed three benefits to doing a policy transfer this is important to understand because if you are selling your home this could significantly help you since it would lock in the current rate and the new property owner would not have to do anything. Learn more about how to do a policy transfer. So what about flood losses?


Verifying Flood Losses

Verifying flood losses for a buyer is huge especially if you are in buyer beware areas like Birmingham Alabama where state laws do not support property disclosures. Until recently this was an up hill battle because the only way to get a copy of these losses was for the current property owner to request them from FEMA. However in June of 2019 FEMA changed that where anyone could get a list of these losses and a history of NFIP policies on a property by visiting Open FEMA. This is a big deal for buyers because it can put the information they need in their hands to make the best decision. If you have further questions about to verify this you can also visit our website Flood Insurance Guru

Verifying the Location of the Structure

Where a structure is located on a property could make or break a real estate deal when it comes to flood insurance. Areas like Pelham Alabama and Alabaster Alabama have seen this recently with flood map changes. FEMA does flood zones based on parcels so just because they say a property is in a high risk flood zone does not actually mean it is. This has caused properties in areas like Smith lake in Cullman and Jasper Alabama to be placed in a high risk flood zone when they should not have been. The FEMA MAP Service really helps show exactly where in the flood zone the structure is located. It also lets you know if the structure is a good candidate for flood zone removal. Learn more about get a structure removed from a flood zone.


Verify When Flood Map Changed or Will Change

Depending on when a flood zone changed could determine exactly what the flood insurance options are especially in areas like Galveston Texas and Augusta Georgia where flood map changes recently hit residents hard. Let's say you have a listing that was placed into a high risk area within the last 12 months then it could qualify for whats called a newly mapped area. These are properties that qualify for special rates for the first 12 months of the new flood zone. What about the future?

It's important to know if your listing will be placed into a high risk flood zone within the next few months. When flood map changes are coming FEMA publishes them in the local newspaper for 90 days and on the 91st day they go into place. As you can imagine this could have a huge impact on a closing if no one knew about it. Learn more about these changes here so you can be prepared.


As you can see there are alot of things you need to do when finding out out your listing is in a high risk flood zone. Want to be better prepared for these situations? Make sure to visit our YouTube channel and Facebook page where we do daily flood education videos. You can also visit our open facebook group Flood Education and Flood Insurance Awareness where we answer these questions.


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Chris Greene


Chris Greene

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