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.