The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood map revision effective date is arriving fast and Henry H. Lowndes, Jr. and William Hackett III of the independent insurance agency, C. T. Lowndes & Company, recently discussed some issues involving the revision.
The effective date is still set for December 21, 2017 and it is important to note that the maps being revised at this time are the maps for the Town of Edisto Beach and the unincorporated areas of Colleton County, most importantly those areas adjacent to Edisto Beach. The revision not only moves some homes from the VE zone to the AE zone and some from AE to X zones but also amends the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) in almost all zones.
With the exception of houses in the 2000 to 3000 block, it is difficult to determine from the new maps if homes on the ocean side of Palmetto Blvd are moved into an AE zone or will remain in the VE zone. After December 21, a Flood Zone Determination report can be obtained to resolve the issue. In some cases, a new Elevation Certificate may be necessary. The new BFE in this VE zone is 12 feet.
Mr. Lowndes asked Mr. Hackett if a property that was in compliance in a VE zone would automatically be compliant in an AE zone. The answer is “Not always”. Proper venting is required for any enclosure below the elevated first floor in an AE zone. There is no venting requirement in a VE zone. For example, a VE zone home has a 250 square foot enclosure (a storage area, elevator, etc.) below the elevated floor with no venting. The property moves from the VE zone to the AE zone. Proper vents would need to be installed in the enclosure in order to attain the most favorable rates on the policy. Caution: venting will not help if the enclosure is “finished” by NFIP definition.
So how does one have vents installed and what kinds of vents are compliant? What is the cost? How many vents are needed? Mr. Lowndes suggests googling “flood compliant vents” to become educated on available FEMA certified venting. Most engineered vents fall into the $30-$70 range plus installation. Smart vents cost upwards of $200 each plus installation. And there is at least one contractor on Edisto Beach who will install the vents. FEMA dictates that for every square foot of enclosure, there must be at least one square inch of venting. Thus, in the example above, one would need at least 250 square inches of venting. In addition, the vents must be within 12 inches of the ground and located on at least 2 sides of the enclosure.
Mr. Hackett followed up to say that the cost of installation, in most cases, would certainly be recouped by the premium reduction on the policy.
One other question that has arisen is whether the owner of a home located in a VE zone needs to have a new Flood Elevation Certificate (EC) in order to be re-rated in the AE zone. No, a new EC is not necessary. Note, however, that owners of older homes (built before 1974) for which there is no existing EC should definitely obtain an EC. Once the EC is obtained, the owner plus the insurance agent can review the elevation certificate and develop a plan to possibly bring the home into compliance.
The flood insurance companies have indicated they will catch the changes in flood zone or Base Flood Elevation when the policy is first renewed in 2018. All changes will be effective as of December 21, 2017. For policyholders whose property is moving from a VE zone to an AE zone, Mr. Lowndes indicated that his agency will request the insurance company immediately endorse those policies (effective 12/21/2017) due to potential large premium differences.