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 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 today!