If you are moving to an area where flooding occurs on a regular basis, then you will want to acquire flood insurance to protect yourself against financial loss if your home and belongings are damaged in a flood. In order to issue you a flood insurance policy, your insurance agent will need to assess your property's unique risk. This risk is typically evaluated using flood elevation certificates.
Here are three things that you must do in order to obtain a flood elevation certificate for your new property.
1. Find the basic flood elevation.
In order to determine your property's unique risk of being damaged during a flood, your insurance company will compare your property's elevation against the basic flood elevation (BFE) in the surrounding area.
The BFE provides information about how high waters typically rise during a base flood. Knowing the BFE for your area helps you get a basic idea as to where your property's elevation stands in terms of flood risk. The BFE can usually be obtained by paying the city or county clerk's office a visit.
2. Check for existing flood elevation certificates.
Once you have obtained the BFE for your area, you should check to see if your new property has been issued a flood elevation certificate in the past.
Previous homeowners may have invested in a flood elevation certificate in order to acquire their own insurance policy, and you may be able to use the information on that certificate to appease your own insurance company. The local municipal government maintains a record of all flood elevation certificates issued, so you will be able to see if there is one on file for your property.
3. Contact an experienced land surveyor.
If there are no previous flood elevation certificates on file for your property, or if your insurance company is demanding that a new certificate be issued as a condition of coverage, you will need to contact an experienced land surveyor to begin the certification process.
A land surveyor has the skills required to determine the exact elevation of your new property. Be sure that the surveyor you work with is certified by the state to issue flood elevation certificates, and plan to invest anywhere from $336 to $668 on surveying costs.
If you have never lived in a flood-prone area before, moving into a floodplain can present some unique challenges. Be sure that you are familiar with the flood elevation certification process so that you can acquire a flood insurance policy that is sufficient to cover your property in the future.