Homeowners can determine the flood zone applicable to their properties by consulting flood insurance rate maps, hiring a flood zone determination company, or requesting a flood zone determination review from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The flood zone is used to determine premiums for flood insurance.
Technically, all homes are located in flood zones, but some zones are considered at higher risk for flooding than others. FEMA publishes and regularly updates flood insurance rate maps that indicate the flood zones for each community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. High-risk areas are considered to have a one in four chance of flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage and are labeled with the letters A or V. Low- to moderate-risk areas are labeled B, C or X, and areas for which no flood hazard determination has been performed are labeled D. It is often difficult to pinpoint a home’s exact location on a map. In this case, flood zone determination companies are available to correctly identify the flood zone for a property.
Homeowners may wish to contest the flood zone that has been assigned to their properties to avoid a mortgage lender’s requirement to purchase flood insurance or to obtain a lower premium available to lower-risk zones. In these instances, homeowners can request a flood insurance zone determination review by following a procedure outlined by FEMA to officially determine the flood zone for the home.