WTG F.A.Q.

One of our main goals at Western Technologies Group is to provide as much comprehensive, useful, and accessible information as we can. Below are some of the questions that are frequently asked to our Certified Floodplain Managers and order operators at the Flood Resource Center.

What is a Flood Determination?

A Flood Determination is a document that provides and confirms the flood status of a specific structure. The WTG Flood Determination includes (i) the FEMA Standard Flood Hazard Determination Form that identifies the Flood Zone and states whether flood insurance is required under the NFIP. (ii) Visual verification in the form of imagery our experts use in their analysis. (iii) Flood Zone Legend, the color coded demarcations that correspond with FEMA flood zones (X, AE, V, etc.) (iv) Advisory/Preliminary maps (when available) so the property owner can have a ‘heads up’ to possible future changes in their flood zone.

What is the difference between a Flood Zone and a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)?

When most people say “flood zone” they actually mean “Special Flood Hazard Area” (SFHA). An SFHA is any zone containing the letters “A” or “V”.  SFHA’s are the high-risk flood zones where flood insurance in required. All SFHA’s are flood zones, not all flood zones are SFHA’s.

Is this (my) structure in a flood zone?

Yes, all structures within a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are in a flood zone. Determining what flood zone your structure resides in and if that zone is considered a SFHA are of paramount importance. Flood insurance is only required (by FEMA) when any part of your insurable structure is in a SFHA. This is what is known as FEMA’s Mandatory Purchase Requirement.

There is a high risk SFHA on my property but it does not touch my home: am I in a high risk zone?

Under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rules, you would not be in a high risk zone. If your structure is completely within a zone of minimal risk, X or X (0.2%), you are considered low to moderate risk and do not require flood insurance. However, our recommendation is that you get flood insurance for the added protection. The premium would be very low.

I heard there are new flood maps. Do you use the new maps for your Flood Determination?

The idea of ‘new maps’ vs. ‘old maps’ is a common misconception, the ‘old maps’ are the current, effective, maps that we use for our determinations and the ‘new maps’ are the Advisory/Preliminary Maps primarily used to help guide construction. The current, effective, maps are the only maps that can be used to determine if flood insurance is required. The ‘new maps’ are more accurately known as Advisory/Preliminary and cannot be used as the basis for a Flood Determination. Eventually, these Advisory/Preliminary maps (or some version of said) will be made ‘effective’, at which point they will be used for the basis of our Flood Determinations.

 Can an insurance company exceed FEMA’s mandatory flood insurance requirement?

Yes. FEMA’s requirements are the minimum requirements for flood insurance. If you have a mortgage, your lender has the right to require flood insurance no matter what flood zone you are in.

If a lender requires flood insurance regardless of my zone, will the premium be high?

No. Policies on structures outside the SFHA are called Preferred Risk Policies (PRP) and are usually hundreds of dollars as opposed to thousands.

 If I don’t have a mortgage is flood insurance required?

No. FEMA’s mandatory purchase requirement only applies to structures with mortgages. If you own the home out right, it is your prerogative to purchase flood insurance as you are assuming the full risk.

Will my mortgage lender or insurance company accept your report?

Yes. We are certified by FEMA to produce our flood determinations. Our clients include mortgage companies, title companies, banks, and insurance companies who trust the conclusion of our reports.

What if my bank, lender, or Mortgage Company doesn’t use WTG?

If your lender already has their own method of obtaining flood determinations, a situation may arise where our conclusion differs from theirs. In cases where conclusions differ, the next step is often hiring a surveyor to do and Elevation Certificate, and subsequently, getting a Letter of Map Amendment to resolve the issue.

If I am in an SFHA, can the designation be challenged or changed?

Yes, you can dispute the flood status of an insurable structure that is affected by a SFHA by way of a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). A LOMA is an official document issued only by FEMA stating the flood status of a particular structure(s). The first step in any LOMA application is to have an elevation certificate produced by a licensed land surveyor.

What is a LOMA?

A Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) is a document produced by FEMA that changes the flood status of a structure. FEMA will compare structural elevations to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) of the property. If the structural elevations are above the BFE, then the structure can be effectively removed from the SFHA and from the mandatory purchase requirement. FEMA is the only government organization that can issue a LOMA. Visit www.myfloodstatus.com to learn about this process.

 Can I use this report to sell my home?

Yes. Buyers like accurate information about a property they are purchasing. Real Estate Agents will often attach a copy of our Flood Determination to their MLS listing. This can make your property more attractive in a town or area that has a reputation for flooding if the structure is not contacted by a SFHA. Real Estate Agents can use our report to increase buyer interest/activity and to fully disclose any flood related issues.

 If my structure is in an SFHA, and I have no mortgage, should I obtain flood insurance?

It is always our recommendation that flood insurance be obtained if any insurable structure is near or in an SFHA. While you will incur the cost (insurance premium), you will also be covered should anything happen.

Why is our report better/more accurate than other Flood Determinations?

While there are other reputable companies out there that produce flood determinations, our experience is that we have a particularly exceptional and accurate report. The systems we have in place to identify the property and conduct an accurate analysis are the best that the industry has to offer. In addition, we offer our proprietary visual verification (in the form of screen captures), so the user/customer can see the data we used in the analysis and understand the method behind our determination. The report is also certified and insured. We stand behind our products.

If you have any questions, comments, concerns about any of the items mentioned here, or any other flood related questions feel free to contact the MyFloodStatus flood resource center at 855-653-5663 or visit us at www.myfloodstatus.com. Our staff of order operators and Certified Flood Plain Managers are always ready and willing to answer any question you may have.

 

What does “500-year flood” mean?

As with the “100 year flood”, the meaning of the term “500 year flood” is also often times misunderstood. Many people do not understand how it affects their structure as well as their flood insurance coverage.

The 500-year flood zone is used to designate base floodplains of lesser hazards, such as areas protected by levees from 100 year flood, or shallow flooding areas with average depths of less than one foot or drainage areas less than 1 square mile.

Common Misconceptions about the 500-year flood

The Flood Insurance Requirement – On FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), the 500-year flood zone is designated as “B” or “X shaded” (AKA “X 0.2%”). When your structure is within this zone, flood insurance IS NOT REQUIRED by FEMA. This zone appears on the FIRM for informational purposes only!

Flood Insurance Availability – Flood insurance CAN BE purchased in the 500-year flood zone! While flood insurance is not REQUIRED by FEMA in the 500-year flood zone, it is strongly suggested. Being that there is an increased chance of flooding when you are in the “500 year(X 0.2%)” zone, it’s a good idea to purchase flood insurance to protect your investment. If one were to purchase flood insurance in this zone, it is considered a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). PRP’s usually run the insured anywhere from 400-600 dollars per year.

The real chances of flooding – As with the 100 year flood, the most common misconception is that a 500 year flood is a flooding event that happens once every 500 years. The 500 year flood zone is a designated area that has a 1 in 500 (0.2%) chance of being met or exceeded in any given year. The 500 year flood would likely be more catastrophic than the 100 year flood which would be more catastrophic than a 20 year flood, etc.

Underestimating true risk – When your structure is within the 500-year flood zone, there is a 6% chance of being flooded over the life of a 30 year mortgage.

To obtain the most accurate and reliable flood information, get a certified insured Flood Determination from www.myfloodstatus.com. The report will show your current and proposed(if available) flood status using “visual verification” to show exactly how the flood zones affect your land and insurable structures.  Confirm, challenge, and know your true flood status with www.myfloodstatus.com today!

The Real Estate Agents Guide to Reading a Flood Determination

Western Technologies Group (WTG) is dedicated to being a reliable and consistent resource for our clients which include banks and realtors nationwide. We strive to offer the most up-to-date, accurate flood-related information and support in the industry, and we do our best to make sure that any information we give is as simple to understand as possible. One of the cornerstones of our company is the Flood Determination. Understanding it will offer valuable insight into our company, why we are the industry leader, and how this product is a valuable tool for you and your clients.

What is a Flood Determination?

A flood determination is a report that provides information about a specific property or structure. It confirms where an insurable structure (home, office building, warehouse, etc.) sits with regard to the flood zone. This document is referred to as the Standard Flood Hazard Determination Form, or SFHDF.

What is it used for?

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) identifies the zones of flood risk and dictates the standards for flood insurance coverage. If your property includes an insurable structure that falls within a specific high-risk flood zone area, called a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), you are required to carry flood insurance if you are obtaining a mortgage from a federally backed lender.

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners’ properties have been misidentified and rated incorrectly, costing them tens of thousands of dollars per year.

How do WTG Flood Determinations differ from the industry?

Other companies claim to offer reliable determinations, but upon examining the fine print on their reports, you’ll find that they’re not insured, have accuracy limitations, and do not protect you with regard to liability.

WTG’s flood determinations (offered at MyFloodStatus.com) are completely insured and move all risk and liability away from you. We also utilize the most accurate technology available providing you with the most accurate visual verification of where the flood zone falls with regard to your property or structures. The report includes:

  • The FEMA SFHDF – this identifies the flood zone and states whether flood insurance is required under NFIP rules.
  • Visual Verification Map – A visual interpretation of how the determination was made.This overlay identifies the subject property in real space in conjunction with the effective flood insurance rate map.
  • Advisory/Preliminary maps – (when available) which give the property owner a ‘heads up’ to possible future changes to their flood zone.
  • Access to the Flood Resource Center – staffed by multiple Certified Floodplain Managers who routinely help our clients from start to finish with flood related issues should you have questions about a property or report beyond what the Flood Determination dictates.

How do I read a Flood Determination?

There are many components found on a WTG flood determination. Our goal, as a company and of this blog, is to make them as easy to follow as possible. Listed below are the pertinent sections located on a standard flood determination form and how to interpret them.

  • Box A: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Information including community name, county name and NFIP community number
  • Box B: NFIP community panel, including the effective date and flood zone. (Remember all properties are in a flood zone, but not all properties are in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).
  • Box D: Perhaps the most important box. It indicates whether flood insurance is required. The flood insurance requirement can only be imposed on an insurable structure. If there is no structure, then no insurance is required regardless of what zone you are in.
  • Box E:  Comments made by the preparer of the SFHDF. WTG may place information here that pertains to the report itself.

Should you have questions about a property or report beyond what the Flood Determination dictates, our expert staff is here to help. Our tools and resources can help you be the most educated on a potential property sale, can help protect you and your clients, examine avenues for mitigation, seek a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment), and can also help you market low-risk properties that reside in high-risk areas.

What does the “100-year flood” mean?

Many people hear the term “100-year flood” and are confused about what this actually means and how it affects their property as well as their flood insurance coverage.

The 100-year flood is synonymous with several other terms that you may have heard, including “Base Flood”, “1% annual Chance Flood”, “High Risk Flood Zone” and “Special Flood Hazard Area” (SFHA). The 100 year-flood zone is any zone containing the letters “A” or “V”. When your structure is within one of these 100-year flood zones, flood insurance IS REQUIRED by FEMA.

Where does the name “100-year flood” come from?

 As development in the US grew, we needed a system for evaluating levels of risk for home-owners’ structures. So, we developed the National Flood Insurance Program. The goal of the program was to designate which property owners would be required to carry flood insurance, and who would not, based on their location and related risk of flooding.

The 100-year flood became the standard measure to identify the flood insurance requirement as it was the fairest balance between offering reasonable protection and creating an overly stringent regulation.

Common Misconceptions about the 100-year flood

The real chances of flooding – The most common misinterpretation is that a 100-year flood is a flooding event that happens once in every 100 years.  The 100-year flood zone is actually a designated area that has a 1-in-100 chance (or 1% chance) of flooding in any given year.  This also means it can flood more than once within a 100-year period, and can even flood more than once in the same year.

Nature is always unpredictable – Also, it’s important to point out that even when we do our best to observe key statistics, Mother Nature can always be unpredictable. Statistical averages based on past precipitation/storm records give us information, but not guarantees.

Under-estimating true risk – You may be on the outer edges of a high-risk flood zone, thinking you are safe from flooding.  However, consider these statistics…over the course of a 30-year mortgage, you may experience a 26% chance of being flooded (100-year flood zone).

Flood Risk likely will change over time: Flood risk can and does change over time; in fact FEMA is constantly updating maps all over the country. When new maps are issued, your risk may have changed as well, along with your flood insurance requirements.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Consider flood insurance if you are close to a Special Flood Hazard Area, and, don’t ignore flood insurance if you are far from a high hazard flood zone. After all, FEMA states that 25-30% of all flood insurance claims are paid in moderate-low risk areas.

To obtain the most accurate and reliable flood information, get a certified insured Flood Determination from www.myfloodstatus.com. Your report will show your current and proposed future flood status, along with “visual verification”, via screen shots, of your flood zone status.  Confirm, challenge, and know your true flood status with www.myfloodstatus.com today!

 

Determining Flood Zones

Determining Flood Zones

Can you rely on public flood information when determining flood zones?

The answer is NO.  When you adopt this practice, you leave yourself open to liability.   All public sources will have disclaimers in varying degrees which express the fact that the information should not be used for flood insurance rating purposes.  These public systems are also not 100% accurate in identifying property locations and are not official determinations of flood status.

You should consider many factors when determining flood zones:

  • Is my INSURABLE STRUCTURE affected by a high risk flood zone?
  • Is there a LOMA or LOMR removing the property or structure from the High Risk Flood Zone?
  • Was there a recent map change that could have changed my flood status?
  • Is there a pending map change that could change my flood status in the future?
  • What is the elevation of the structure compared to the Base Flood Elevation?

This information is not readily available and sometimes not easily understood.  This data should be analyzed by a flood determination expert to insure accuracy when determining flood zones and the mandatory purchase requirement for flood insurance.

Many considerations are instrumental in determining a property’s flood status and the flood insurance premium.  New maps are changing the flood zones of properties all across the country.  A flood determination is no longer a check box on a form. New laws and regulations regarding mitigation and rebuilding must be observed.

Run a Flood Determination Report from www.myfloodstatus.com.  The report comes with the professional guidance of the “Flood Resource C­­enter”, which will provide customer support, understanding and direction.  Certified flood plain managers and flood specialists can help lower flood insurance premiums and possibly remove properties from high risk flood zones.

Each report is insured.  You shift the liability and the burden of dealing with flood related issues to the professionals.  Don’t put yourself at risk by determining flood zones with misleading online tools.   Leave this to My Flood Status and the Flood Resource Center powered by WTG, they stand behind every determination.

For more information go to www.myfloodstatus.com or call 855-653-5663.

What is a flood zone?

What flood zone am I in?

All properties within a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are in a flood zone. Every structure located in one of the more than 20,400 NFIP-participating communities is in a “flood zone”. Determining what flood zone you are in and if that zone is considered a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) are of paramount importance. And, as we have seen in recent years and even recent months, being located outside a SFHA does not guarantee immunity from the possibility of flood loss.

A SFHA is any zone beginning in the letters “A” or “V”, these are the high-risk zones where flood insurance is required. All SFHA’s are flood zones, not all flood zones are SFHA’s.

Supposed “non-hazardous” flood zone areas, historically delineated using “B, C, or X are considered areas of moderate of minimal hazard. Flood insurance is not required in these areas.

When determining flood status, the location of any insurable structure(s) on the property is key. Flood insurance is only required (by FEMA) when any part of an (inhabited) structure(s) encroaches (touches) a SFHA.  This is FEMAs Mandatory Purchase Requirement on a property with a federally backed mortgage.

You are eligible to purchase flood insurance as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. If you do not have a mortgage and are in or near a SFHA, we highly recommend you purchase flood insurance.