Last time we discussed this subject, I focused on properties moving to flood zone X because of the flood remapping. This time let us talk about properties that will move from the low risk X zone to a moderate risk AE flood zone. There will not be many of these – remember, we are not sure if FEMA has taken into consideration rising sea levels!
So, your home is now in flood zone X and, all of a sudden, next year you are in flood zone AE. Does that mean you need to get the sandbags ready? No, but it does mean that you will now be required to have a flood insurance policy if you have a mortgage on your home. And I can assure you the mortgage company will very quickly find out your flood zone has changed!
How do I know if my flood zone will change? The preliminary new flood maps are available online and your insurance agent can check it for you. There are times when it is not possible to determine the new zone by looking at the map so a Flood Zone Determination is needed. These can be obtained online by your agent; however, this document cannot be generated until the date the map change is effective.
How much will my AE zone flood policy cost? At least for the first year of the policy, less than $500 for a policy providing $250,000 coverage on the home and $100,000 on contents. The rates will increase by about 8% on January 1, 2019. You will be eligible for the Newly Mapped Rated procedure.
After the first year, the premium will rise about 15% annually until the actuarial premium is reached. This actuarial (or full-rate) premium is determined by the information contained on a Flood Elevation Certificate (EC). Factors include the foundation type, first floor elevation of your home, the presence and use of an enclosure and/or attached garage, and whether the enclosure and/or attached garage is properly vented.
How do I obtain an EC? Most surveyors can do the EC. The cost is in the $600 range.
Can my home be grandfathered into the X zone? No
What else do I need to know? As stated above, one rating key is the lowest floor elevation of you home. FEMA requires that any enclosure below the lowest elevated floor (crawl space, storage, garage, etc.) must be properly vented to allow for the entry and exit of floodwaters. The proper openings requirement states that there must be one square inch of opening for every square foot of enclosed area. If your enclosure is 10’ x 12’ or 120 square feet, you need at least 120 square inches of openings. The openings must be on at least two exterior walls.
The opening requirement does not apply to homes built on a slab.
Your agent will also need to know if the walls in the enclosure are finished (sheet rock, etc.) and if there is any equipment in the enclosure like washer/dryer, water heater, etc.
Next time we will talk about Berkeley County where the flood maps are changing December 7, 2018.
Henry Lowndes Jr.