A month from the official launch of the new Risk Rating 2.0 program with FEMA and the NFIP, we equally want to focus on the upcoming changes to flood maps.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be changing the flood zones for multiple states starting this month and for this one, we want to cover the upcoming update to Spencer City in Iowa's Clay County.


Flood Zones in Risk Rating 2.0

Out with the old, in with the new federal flood insurance program with Risk Rating 2.0 and this means that we're past the legacy program which looks at flood zones as a determining factor for your flood insurance rate or flood insurance premium. However, it's still crucial to understand why the Risk Rating 2.0 from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will impact the flood insurance studies and the industry itself.

READ: NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 Update

It's important to keep in mind that Risk Rating 2.0 will only look at flood zones for regulatory purposes. This means flood insurance rate maps (FIRM) and the flood zone changes happening with it will only be used to determine whether or not a property is required to carry flood insurance or not. Basically, the rating flood maps of old are out and the regulatory flood maps of Risk Rating 2.0 is the new standard.


Today, we discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly changes with the flood map updates to Clay County that will start to take effect this November 5th, 2021. We want to focus on how many properties will be impacted by this new floodplain mapping, how many properties are moving into high-risk flood zones, how many are being removed from it, and how many are going deeper into the special flood hazard areas (SFHA).


The Good

Starting with the good changes with this flood map update. We say that this is a good change because a property impacted by this will be removed from the high-risk areas or SFHA. FEMA would call this the "in to out" movement.

When it comes to Clay County in Iowa, about 661 properties will be moved into low-risk zones. This means that if you're one of these houses moving in to out, the insured building written on your flood insurance policy will be in the moderate-to-low-risk flood areas which are Flood Zones B, Flood Zone C, and the famous Flood Zone X.

Since Risk Rating 2.0 only looks at these regulatory flood maps in order to understand the overall flood risk of a property, being in these low-risk flood areas will give you an option to not carry flood insurance to your property.

Despite this, we want to mention that low-risk doesn't mean zero risk. The risk for flooding in these areas is still very much possible although generally, the chance of flooding in these zones is very low. It is still best to carry flood insurance at all times in order to protect your property from any and all flood damage. FEMA even mentioned that 25% of flood insurance claims come from these flood zones. Flood insurance also helps individuals start preparing by lowering their flood risk.

The Bad

Now, let's move to the bad changes coming with this new flood map update. FEMA calls this an "out to in" movement since the flood insurance rate map will take properties that are in the low-risk zones and place them into high-risk zones.

There are 767 property owners that will experience this movement in the upcoming floodplain map. This means that if you're impacted by this bad change, the regulatory standpoint of Risk Rating 2.0 when it comes to flood zones will kick in due. Property owners that are included in the out-to-in movement will now be required to carry flood insurance regardless if they insured residential properties or commercial ones.

High-risk areas like flood zone A or 100-year floodplain generally mean that the properties in this area will have a 26% chance of floodwater inundating during a 30-year mortgage. 

The Ugly

Lastly, we have the ugly changes coming to Clay County and its cities like Spencer City. The ugly change is something that FEMA calls an "in to in" movement. This is because this will impact properties that are already in the SFHA and will be mapped into a higher-risk flood zone. We could also say that this is like moving your insured property from a flood zone A to a flood zone AE.

Generally, this indicates that the impacted properties are very likely to get inundated by any flood event. Unlike low-risk flood zones, these flood zones experience more devastating flood due to their proximity to a water source.

About 3105 properties are expected to experience this in-to-in movement on the flood maps. Just like the bad change or out to in, this also means that you will be required to carry a flood insurance policy for your property. This number may be due to the base flood depths getting worse due to multiple factors.

Now that we have covered the good, bad, ugly changes, and how this can impact your flood insurance purchase, let's talk about your flood insurance options in Spencer City, Iowa.



The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is purely managed by the federal government since this is FEMA's answer to flood insurance. An NFIP flood policy can get you flood coverage on both your dwelling and the contents within it.

When we say dwelling, this simply pertains to either the residential property or commercial building that you're trying to insure with NFIP and FEMA; contents will be more about the personal property and items you have inside the insured building.

There is a coverage limit when it comes to federal flood policies. Flood damage to buildings will be covered to a maximum of $250,000 for residential policies and can only go up to $500,000 maximum if it's for a commercial property. Regardless of the type of property you have written, you can expect to get a $100,000 maximum contents coverage from an NFIP policy.

There's also what's called the Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage. This is a $30,000 additional coverage for your property in order to make sure that there are flood mitigation efforts made on the property according to the federal government's standards.

Generally, this can include sandbagging your property, installing floodproofing walls, raising your lowest floor from the base flood elevation levels, and putting flood openings. The labor that goes into making these mitigation efforts happen will also be covered under the ICC.


There are also perks with your participating community in Sibley. A participating community gets access to federal flood insurance and disaster assistance, but more importantly, you also get to work with your community on raising your Community Rating System (CRS) score. The CRS measures and rewards the overall flood mitigation efforts done by the community according to FEMA's standards on floodplain management. Simply put, the higher your CRS score is, the bigger the flood insurance discount you'll get from FEMA and the NFIP.

You can start enjoying your NFIP policy after a 30-day waiting period from the flood insurance purchase.

The Private Flood

If the federal flood insurance option doesn't really work for you then you can manage this new floodplain mapping through the private flood insurance market. It's important to note that this market will solely be managed and provided by private insurance companies which generally means that the red tapes FEMA and NFIP has to go through won't be there.

The first thing you'll immediately see with the private flood market is that there are significantly shorter waiting periods for your flood policy. Once you have everything settled and paid for, a private flood insurance policy can take effect on 7 or up to 14 days maximum. 


Another good thing coming out of private flood insurance is that there are no coverage limits. This means that you won't really need to stress over how to get covered for a $500,000 home since it will be fully covered by your policy. This is the same with contents coverage and you'll also get additional coverages like replacement costs, additional living expenses, and loss of use.

Fair warning, it's a known issue in the private insurance market in general that they will do moratoriums when there are risks that are too high for their comforts. This simply means that they will either put a stop or take a break from providing flood insurance policies to a certain area that has higher risks. There's also a chance that you might not get to buy flood insurance from them once they decide to non-renew your policy.

At the end of the day, the choice of where you'll be getting flood insurance depends on you. What's really important is that you know your flood risks and have enough protection from all possible outcomes of a flood event such as flood loss and flood damage.

Click the link below to access our Flood Learning Center where we try to answer your questions on flood insurance and beyond.

Flood Insurance Guru | Service | Knowledge Base

Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation and we want to help you understand flood risks, your flood insurance, and mitigating your property long-term. 

New call-to-action

As we further go into the Spring season, we slowly enter into the hurricane season as well. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced twenty-one names for upcoming hurricanes. Although this doesn't mean that we'll certainly get at least twenty-one hurricanes, it's still a good heads up for what might come this hurricane season. Today, we want to talk about the flood map changes coming to Dubuque in the state of Iowa and understand what it can mean for flood insurance.


We want to unpack the good, the bad, and the ugly changes of these flood insurance map (FIRM) changes. We also want to tell you how this can impact your rates and what your flood insurance options are.

Flooding in Iowa

First, we want to cover the flooding that Iowa had experienced in recent years especially in Dubuque in order to understand how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — who analyzed, researched, and created these flood maps — arrived into the update they'll be putting into effect on May 10th (Monday).

In June 2008, Central Iowa was impacted by huge flooding that was considered worse for Iowa if you were to put it beside the Great Flood of 1993. This event totaled six billion dollars in damages and thankfully, no casualties. However, the amount of damages despite the flood mitigation efforts were felt throughout the state. Although Dubuque wasn't impacted compared to other parts of the state, the constant threat of flash floods was always there through the time of the flooding. The cause for this flooding was the warm and wet air clashing with what winter left on the state bringing rainfall and rivers rising.

The Flood Insurance Guru | Flood Map Updates | Spring 2021: Dubuque, Iowa

Three years later, Iowa faced another flooding incident known as the Missouri River Flooding 2011. As expected, the winter leftovers were the culprit for the flooding as there were record snowfalls over Montana and Wyoming plus spring storms or rainfall causing rivers to rise and dams along the Missouri River to release record amounts of water to prevent overflowing. This caused levees across Iowa to collapse bringing flash floods to its local residents.

In retrospect, we've seen how much damages can constant rainfall in Spring can cause and how areas or states close to Iowa can impact flooding as well. This may happen again as we're seeing record levels of snowfall from winter on multiple states and relatively strong storms too.

Now, let's talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly changes that this new flood map update will bring to residents of Dubuque.


The Good

When it comes to what we call the good changes, this happens when your property is moved out of a high-risk flood zone or some would say "out of a flood zone". Although the latter statement is never true since you're always mapped into a flood zone, it just depends on how high the risks for flooding that you're property's facing is.

In the good flood map changes, this means that you're in an "in to out" movement which is something that around 1200 Dubuque residents will experience on May 10th. This means that previously, the property's mapped in a high-risk flood zone and is moving to preferred flood zones or low-risk flood zones. Some would call this moving to Flood Zone X.

This means that you will also get preferred flood insurance rates and flood insurance won't be required but is still highly recommended. It's important to note that even low-risk flood zones like Flood Zone X are still subject to flooding. In fact, most flood claims are coming from these zones according to FEMA.  Now, when we say preferred rates, this means that you're getting the lowest possible premium rates for your flood insurance compared to those if you're moving into these low-risk zones. This can mean that your flood insurance rate will be around $1,000 or maybe lower than that.

The Bad

Now, when it comes to the bad changes, this is the exact opposite of the good changes. In the case of Dubuque, about 370 residents are moving into high-risk flood zone, like Flood Zone A, when previously they're in a low-risk flood zone. This movement is shown as the "out to in" in these flood map updates.

This means that these homeowners will now be required to carry flood insurance for their property since generally moving into high-risk flood zones prompts mortgage companies to impose mandatory flood insurance for the property. If you don't buy it yourself then your mortgage lender might force-place a policy for your house which is a really bad deal.

Flood insurance rates in these areas will also be higher. If Iowa's average flood insurance rate is about $1,045 then you can expect your premiums to be around this price and up to $3,000 depending on the construction of your house. If your property also has flood claims previously, this can also affect your rates and cause it to go significantly higher.

The Ugly

Now, let's talk about the worst part of these flood map changes which is what we usually call an ugly change. This is because of the movement that around 4200 properties will be going through this May 10th. The movement is shown as the "in to in" because these properties will be moving deeper into the high-risk flood zones or higher-risk flood zones.

The movement might be because you're in a Flood Zone A before the updates and then you're now going to be mapped into Flood Zone AE. This will bring a drastic increase in your flood insurance premiums. If we were to go back to the premiums we mentioned previously, this can go up to $5,000 to $8,000 in FEMA. This is the same for the bad changes since your mortgage will be requiring you to carry a policy, mandatory flood insurance, with your property. The federal flood insurance may also require you to produce and submit additional documents like photos and elevation certificates in order to write a policy for you, and this costs a lot of money as well. 

Now, we want to cover your flood insurance options since we know that this is one of the most important things to prepare for the hurricane season.

Flood Insurance Options


First, let's go through the well-known option which is federal flood insurance. Also known as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the government-backed option where you have to go through FEMA to get your policy here. It's important to note that there are certain red tapes you need to consider when going to federal flood insurance.

The Flood Insurance Guru | Flood Map Updates | Spring 2021: Dubuque, Iowa

The NFIP offers maximum coverage for property damage of up to $250,000 and contents coverage or personal property coverage of $100,000 maximum. It's important to note that this number won't go up for residential properties. This can go up to $500,000 max only for commercial properties with the same coverage for contents. The NFIP won't be covering additional living expenses unless there's a presidential declaration, replacement costs, and loss of use.

It's also important to note that if you're looking to go through FEMA for your flood policy, there will be a strict 30-day waiting period before your policy can take effect. Depending on how fast you process the necessary requirements for flood insurance purchase, this may go up to 60 days especially if there are additional documents being asked.


One of the great things about the NFIP is if you're in a participating community, your Community Rating Score (CRS) can really benefit your flood insurance as this can provide you and your community in Dubuque a discount of up to 40%. Although this depends on your score, there's still a big chance of getting a discount through this program with FEMA. Being in a participating community also gives you access to disaster aid and disaster grants.

The Private Flood

Now, let's talk about the other option that most people might not know about or may shy away from, the private flood insurance market. It's important to note that there's nothing to be scared about the private flood as they do what your federal flood insurance can, if not more.

When it comes to private flood coverage, this doesn't have a coverage limit and maximum amount you can go up to. So, if you want to get more than $250,000 for your house and $100,000, you can do so with these private insurance companies. They also offer extra coverage like additional living expenses, loss of use, and replacement costs even if there's no presidential declaration for the flooding that happened.


It's important to note however that there might be some companies who won't write a policy due to the risks of flooding on your property. This may be due to the property's current flood zone designation or the history of flood loss and flood claims with the house. You won't have to worry about that however since you can still go through other private insurers since there's never one insurance company when it comes to private flood.

Since you're also buying from private insurers, they won't be held back by the red tapes that FEMA has to go through. This is why flood insurance policies from the private market can take effect as soon as you complete your requirements and payment on the flood policy purchase or up to fifteen days.


At the end of the day, being proactive and prepared beats being reactive when it comes to floodings. The choice of where you're getting your flood insurance doesn't really hold that much weight so long as you're making sure that there's a policy ready to save you from potential flood loss

So, if you have questions on these flood map changes, the impacts it has on flood insurance for Dubuque, flood insurance options, or anything related to flood, reach out to us using the links below to call, get a quote, or visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel for our daily flood education videos.

Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation. We want to help you protect your property from flood risks and preserve its value long term.

The Flood Insurance Guru | 2054514294    Get Your Quote from Flood Insurance Guru     The Flood Insurance Guru | Chris Greene | YouTube