Flood Insurance Information
Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act
FEMA's Homeowner Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 is a law that repeals and modifies certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act and makes additional program changes to other aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program. For an overview of the act click here.
Is your home protected from a flood?
If you don’t have flood insurance the answer is no.
Flood insurance is your chance to recover after a flood. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. And your homeowner’s insurance does not provide coverage from flood damage. But, if you live in Rhode Island, anywhere in Rhode Island, you CAN purchase flood insurance!
Federally backed flood insurance is available to anyone living in a community that is participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Currently there are over 19,000 communities nationwide participating in the NFIP, including every single community in the state of Rhode Island.
What’s the catch?
Why does the federal government back and provide flood insurance?
The Federal Government agrees to back flood insurance in exchange for communities enacting and enforcing floodplain regulations [the minimum standards can be read in Chapter 44 of Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR 59 and 60)]. What does this mean for you? If your structure meets or exceeds these standards your flood insurance premiums will be lower. If your structure does not meet these standards, flood insurance premiums can be very high.
Facts to Consider About Flood Insurance:
- Meeting the minimum requirements does not mean a low premium.
- For example, breakaway walls are permitted in V-Zones. But, flood insurance premiums for structures with breakaway walls will be much higher than structures without enclosed spaces.
- Use lattice or screening instead.
- Flood-proofing for commercial structures needs to be at least one foot higher than the BFE to achieve a premium equivalent to elevating to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
- A space that is below grade on all four walls is going to be considered a basement (i.e. high premiums).
- Inadequate number or placement of flood vents can result in higher premiums.
- Any space below the BFE, must be properly vented to allow for the flow of water.
- At least two flood vents are required on opposing walls, no higher than 12-inches above grade.
- Every foot you elevate above BFE (freeboard), decreases your premium.
- The Rhode Island State Building Code actually requires one foot of freeboard in Coastal A and V Zones.
What happens when I get a letter from the bank requiring me to get flood insurance?
- Do some extra work to determine if you really are in a floodplain:
- Find your structure on a FIRM.
- This document can be found online at FEMA's Map Service Center or with your Local NFIP Coordinator.
- If “out as shown” on the map, forward a copy of the FIRM to your lending institute.
- Learn how to make a FIRMette.
- If on your structure is in the high risk zone (A, AE or VE) or close to the border of one, hire a surveyor to fill out an Elevation Certificate.
- If the Elevation Certificate (EC) verifies your structure is above the BFE, provide the EC to your lending institute.
- Remember, even if the data determine you are not in a floodplain, a lending company has the right to require insurance anyway.
- Optional - If the EC verifies your structure is above the Base Flood Elevation, you can have the area officially removed from the high risk zone on the FIRM by completing a Letter of Map Change (LOMC) with FEMA.
- Removing your structure from a high risk zone allows you to purchase a "Preferred Risk Policy" which can be significantly less expensive.
Keep in mind, a third of all flood insurance claims come from low to moderate risk areas (areas that don’t have a mandatory purchase requirement). So, protect your investments and buy flood insurance!