What does Base Flood Elevation mean?
The National Flood Insurance Program Flood Manual defines the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) as “The elevation of surface water resulting from a flood that has a 1% chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year”.
How does that practically affect me?
If the BFE where your home is located is 12 feet, for example, that means the first floor of your home must be built at least 12 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL). Many communities in Charleston County actually have building codes for new construction that require the first floor to be 1 or 2 feet higher that the BFE. This extra 1 or 2 feet is called “freeboard”.
Does the BFE affect the premium on my policy?
Yes, two major factors in determining the premium on a flood policy are the flood zone (X, AE, or VE) and the BFE. Basically, the greater the positive difference between the first floor of your home and the BFE, the lower your premium will be. Conversely, if your first floor is below the BFE (negative difference), your premium will be higher.
Due to a recent flood map change, my BFE changed from 15 feet to 12 feet. I thought my flood premium would decrease but it did not. Why is that?
Look at these example rates:
+4 feet or more .24/.08
+3 feet .27/.08
+2 feet .39/.08
+1 foot .71/.08
If the difference between your first floor and the BFE is 4 feet of more, the rate stays the same. Thus, there is no change in premium. Thus, in your case, the first floor elevation of your home is probably 19 feet and you are paying the premium based on the “+4 feet or more” rate. The positive elevation difference was +4 and is now +7. The same rate applies to either situation.