Federal Flood Insurance Changes

As of January 1, 2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implements a flood insurance provision to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help reduce the financial burden placed on property owners whose buildings are newly mapped into a high-risk flood area. The NFIP's Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) offers low-cost flood insurance to owners and tenants of eligible residential and non-residential buildings located in moderate- to low-risk areas.

Before 2003, more than 70 percent of the nation's flood maps were at least ten years old. Congress passed a law and appropriated funds in 2003 directing FEMA to create the five-year Flood Map Modernization program, which used more current data and the latest technology to update the maps. Consequently, many property owners are finding their buildings have been accurately mapped into higher risk areas. Aging flood control infrastructure, including levees, dams, and other structures have also resulted in large numbers of properties being designated within Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) where they are required by lenders to purchase flood insurance.

While map changes are conducted to more accurately reflect a community's flood risk, FEMA recognizes the financial hardship that a SFHA designation may place on individuals in newly identified high risk flood zones and is therefore extending the eligible time period for low-cost PRPs starting January 1, 2011.

Insurance companies should already be contacting policyholders who may qualify for the extension. Agents are required to provide the insurance companies with documentation that shows the structure is eligible for the PRP extension, including current and prior flood map information. This information can be found on FEMA's mapping website (http://msc.fema.gov) or through a community's floodplain administrator.

If you do not currently have flood insurance and you are newly designated in a high risk flood zone, your municipality may assist by filling out the property owner documentation form. You should then present the form to your insurance agent.

There are several ways to learn more about the NFIP and how the PRP extension will apply to you and your community:

William R.
Davis Jr.

Director