What are Flood Zones?
Flood Zones are geographic areas that are designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to indicate how likely it is for a property to experience flooding. FEMA will categorize every home into one of several varying flood zones. Homes located in zones designated by the letters B, C, and X are considered low to moderate risks, while homes designated by the letters A and V are high-risk zones. Looking at the flood zone that a home is located in is the easiest way to get a basic reading on how likely a home is to flood based on past flooding conditions. Typically, people who own homes in an A or V flood zone will be required by their mortgage company to maintain a current flood insurance policy, while people who own homes in low or moderate flood zones have the choice to get flood insurance or remain uninsured if they prefer to.

What Factors go into Determining Flood Zones
FEMA looks at several physical and geographical factors when determining the flood zone of a home. First, they look at the proximity to major bodies of water including rivers, lakes, and of course, the ocean. Homes that are located close to large water sources are typically more likely to flood compared to their landlocked counterparts. After looking at the physical location, things like local climate patterns, elevation, and soil absorption rate are taken into consideration. After researching and obtaining regional data, FEMA can narrow each property down to a certain rating and assign a zone.

Should I have flood insurance?
While it may not seem like it, every single property in this country is in some level of a flood zone. Whether the risk is low or high, there is a possibility that any home can flood. If you own a home in a high-risk flood zone, most insurance professionals will agree that you need to have flood insurance. In most cases, this will be a requirement if you have a mortgage. For homeowners located in low or moderate-risk zones, the decision can be a little tougher. Some will base this decision on factors such as the frequency of flooding in the area, or the elevation of the land around them. The best thing to do is to get a quote from an insurance agent to see the cost of the policy. In most cases, flood insurance will be less than $600 per year for a home in a low or moderate-risk flood zone. At this price, it’s nearly always worth having a flood insurance policy to protect your home from a disaster that could potentially cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Can Flood Zones Change?
The flood zone that a home is located in today may not be the same zone it was 10 years ago or the zone it will be in 10 years in the future. Things like new neighborhood construction, land management, and new infrastructure can have a big impact on the direction in that water flows and the places where it pools. FEMA will usually remap flood zones once every five years to keep these records as up-to-date as possible, so it is important to check this periodically to ensure that you are still protecting your home accordingly. One of the biggest benefits to securing flood insurance for a home in a low or moderate-risk flood zone is the fact that you can be grandfathered into the current zone to keep premiums consistent if the flood zone ever gets adjusted to a high-risk area.

Floodwater can cause disastrous levels of damage to our homes, so we must be well informed about flood and the risk it poses to us individually. The best place to start with this is to look at the FEMA flood zone to see if the home is located in a low, moderate, or high-risk zone. If your home is in a high-risk zone, you will be required to have flood insurance. If your home is located in a low or moderate-risk zone, you should still ask your insurance agent to quote a flood policy that will protect your home and personal property. Taking the proper steps and understanding flood zones can help you to avoid life-changing losses due to floods.

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