As we move out of winter, we should all prepare for what spring has to offer especially when it comes to flood risks. Measuring your risks of flooding nowadays no longer relies on what flood zone you are in, instead, there's a multitude of factors being considered.
Despite this, flood zones still have a hold on flood insurance especially when it comes to determining which properties are required to carry a flood policy. In this article, we talk about the upcoming flood map changes to Kent County in the state of Michigan.
This new flood map for Kent County is going to take effect starting February 23rd, 2023.
Flooding & Michigan
Michigan is no stranger to flood damage. Just in the last 20 years, the state has seen multiple flood events which ravaged its communities and caused major flood loss.
In 2003, more than 4 inches of rain broke the Silver Lake earthen dike which caused $100 million in damages.
Fast forward to 10 years later, sudden rainfall of up to 9 inches of heavy rain came to the Grand Rapids metro area. This caused the Grand River to crest at 21.85 feet in 2013 which led to $10 million in property damage.
The following year 2014, the state saw around 6 inches of rain causing widespread flooding that is estimated $231 million in total property damage to 22,782 affected homes and buildings. These are just a couple of the major flood events which Michigan saw in recent times. Such flood events may impact flood insurance rate maps in any given state or location.
So, what are the upcoming changes to Michigan's Kent County flood maps?
Flood Map Changes to Kent County
In order to understand how these changes can impact you, we first need to have a brief look at what the changes are. When it comes to updating flood insurance rate maps, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would indicate the movements of the property.
Now, it's important to remember here that with the Risk Rating 2.0 update to federal flood insurance, flood zones no longer really determine or impact rates. Instead, it's only a tool being used to determine whether or not a property requires flood insurance.
We label these movements as the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly changes. So, how are these different from one another?
When it comes to the Good changes, this is where we talk about the "in to out" movement of properties with the new flood maps. This means that property owners who are originally mapped into high-risk flood zones will be moved out of them. This change is expected to impact 1,139 properties in Kent County.
Some would refer to this as moving to a Flood Zone X. Now, this simply means that if you're one of the property owners experiencing this change, you will no longer be required to carry a flood insurance policy with your property.
Although this sounds promising especially when it comes to saving money, we still encourage you to maintain that flood protection.
It's important to remember that you are being moved into a low-risk flood zone, not a no-risk one. This is especially true once you consider that with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), at least 25% of their flood claims come from these low-risk zones.
Next up, is the bad change that some property owners will experience. In FEMA's new flood insurance rate map for Kent County, around 4,492 properties that are not in the SFHA will now be moved into the SFHA or a high-risk flood zone. You can see this moving to flood zone A or some people would say being mapped into a flood zone.
One of the big things that might change when it comes to your flood insurance is that being moved into the SFHA and experiencing this "out to in" movement also means that you will start to see a flood insurance requirement with your property.
In basic terms, in a few days, after this new flood map goes live on February 23rd, you might start to see your mortgage lender or bank requiring you to buy flood insurance for the property.
Lastly, we have the ugly change coming to Ken County, Michigan. This change involves properties that are going to experience the "in to in" movement. Some would refer to this as moving deeper into the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA).
The "in to in" movement is what we generally consider as the ugly change that new flood map updates bring as this means that a property is already in a high-risk area and they are being moved deeper into the SFHA; into a higher-risk flood zone.
In the case of Kent County residents, a whopping 6,847 properties will be experiencing this type of movement.
Although this will no longer impact your flood insurance premiums or rates, this type of flood determination movement can still impact you negatively as mortgages will be stricter when it comes to mandatory flood insurance purchases for property owners experiencing this change.
Now that we've covered the changes from this new Hancock flood map, let's talk about how you can fight these changes.
Fighting Flood Zone Changes
One of the first things to keep in mind when it comes to this is that this flood determination is not final. Generally, you can still have your flood zone changed if you feel like you are being mapped into an incorrect flood zone. To do this, you need a letter of map amendment to help you out.
A Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) is an official document that's issued by FEMA to process the change of a flood zone designation for a property. A LOMA is achieved after a successful application for a Letter of Map Change (LOMC) thru FEMA's official website.
It helps to have the necessary information and documents when applying for a LOMA. One of the helpful supporting documents you can provide is an elevation certification.
Although elevation certificates are no longer required — especially with the recent update to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Risk Rating 2.0 — this can really help a lot in proving the validity of your request to be mapped out of a high-risk area.
Flood Insurance Options
Now, let's talk about your flood insurance options in Kent County. Watch the video below to know the difference between the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Private Flood Insurance market.
Flood insurance is important now more than ever as we face higher risks of floods. You don't want to be blindsided by all that floodwater and find yourself in a lot of losses.
If you are ready to take the next steps to get the right flood insurance coverage then there are three simple steps.