As we approach the height of hurricane season, it’s a good time for property owners to brush up on their understanding of flood zones and how they impact flood insurance. Below are some resources and answers to frequently asked questions on flood zones:

  1. Where can you look to find out if your property is in a flood zone? The FEMA Map Service Center is a good resource, visit https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search. Your local Property Appraiser’s GIS system often has flood zone overlays, as well.
  2. Is this information usually disclosed to home shoppers or do you need to inquire? It depends. Some sellers and their agents are aware of their property’s flood zone status, while others aren’t. Regardless, always inquire and confirm. If you obtain financing, your lender is going to require you to know your flood zone.
  3. How does a being in a flood zone affect price? If you’re in a high risk flood zone, the buyer is likely to consider the higher flood insurance cost when proposing a purchase price.
  4. What should you do if you bought home in a flood zone but didn’t know it at the time of purchase? You should look into whether you think you need flood insurance. More specifically, I’d suggest getting an elevation certificate to see if your building elevation puts you at risk of flooding based on FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps. If your elevation is high enough, FEMA might not recommend flood insurance, but it still may be a good idea to purchase it. On the other hand, if your building elevation is below the recommended level, it’s a risk aversion question for you: Do you think the risk of flooding and the damage associated with that flooding is worth the insurance premium? If you had a lender, you would have known you were in a flood zone, and the lender would have required you to obtain insurance to protect their collateral.

Property owners would be wise to consider hiring an attorney to protect their interests before signing on the dotted line. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free contact me at 239-344-1184 or by email at michael.lehnert@henlaw.com.