Reminder….Flood Zones Effective Change August 2017

Areas in low elevation or near a flood zone, should pay particular attention to changes.

FEMA will adopt new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Nassau County in August.   It is important to know whether your property’s flood zone will change and, if building, whether construction cost might change.  In the past year, I ran into an unusal issue with one sale and became far more aware of the potential consequences of change.

All properties are in a flood zone designated, based on their relative risk of flooding in the future.  These areas and the areas designated by FEMA can have a dramatic effect on your insurance rates.   The biggest issue, in my opinion, is a structure built prior to an area becoming a designated flood zone.  If you want to check your property for changes, you can search at www.msc.fema.gov/portal/search or “THIS LINK TO DOWNTOWN FERNANDINA“, if you’re just looking for a “zoomable”, “dragable” map.   Another resource showing both the old and proposed maps can be found on the Nassau County GIS System.  This search shows before and after views or can, if you know how to configure, but might give you an idea of changes.  As always, a survey and your insurance agent are the best sources for determining your flood zone, but a change can increase or decrease your insurance rates.

For over 10 years, Fernandina Beach has participated in the Community Rating System (CRS) of the National Flood Insurance Program.  The City’s class 6 CRS rating results in a  20% discount on flood insurance rates for residents and business owners within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). For businesses and residents located in a Flood Zone X or not within a SFHA the discount is up to 10% Source: Fernandina Beach, FL – Official Website – Flood Protection

FEMA publishes a FAQ on Elevation Certificates, I found helpful.   When selling a home last year, I spent time searching for the correct flood zone and category for a Basement/Walk-out/Storage area.   The look of the area seemed so ambiguous, even the surveyor needed to verify the correct category.  We see few home with basements and the construction seemed to match more than one category.  Finally, actually reading through the descriptions and referring to the original building permits made the category clear.  Oddly, it appeared to have been insured incorrectly for a number of years.  Never assume an old survey is always correct or that flood zones remained the same.  Verify with a new survey and new flood certification.  Years ago, the “FFE” (finished floor elevation) might have been enough to be certain.

Another consideration is the property use.  I know one property with a grandfathered use, built below the current flood zone.   A change of use or renovation of the property would require a change in elevation, essentially making it impossible to use the building for most other uses logical for the location.   Quirks with the elevation, correct classification or changes to areas defined can all have in impact on the purchase, sale, financing, insurance rates or even damage likely to your home in a flood event.

Helpful Resources:

 

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