Flood zones

National Flood Insurance has been extended for five years for those homeowners living in low-lying or designated flood areas requiring coverage. The existing federal subsidies for flood insurance premiums, however, will be phased out over the five-year extension.

The planned phase-out will be based upon criteria (i.e., water source, property elevation) set forth by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The flood insurance premium for “applicable properties” will increase to the full amount for the assessed risk by the end of the five-year extension.

Realtors have been advised to disclose to buyers when a property is known to be in a flood hazard zone and to make them aware of the flood insurance subsidy phase-out plan. Most likely, the flood insurance premium being paid upon acquisition of a property in a flood-hazard zone may not be representative of future flood insurance premiums.

Non-primary properties and some other homes have already experienced an increase in the cost of flood insurance. The remaining changes became effective on Oct. 1. Prospective buyers and homeowners should be aware of the following: Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage, a home has a high risk of flooding if located on a flood plain or Special Flood Hazard Area, a 100-year flood zone (“AE” zone) means the area has one percent or greater chance of a significant flood happening in any year, and a property in a Special Flood Hazard Area has a 26% chance of being flooded during the term of a 30-year mortgage. (A “VE” zone is a coastal high-hazard zone subject to velocity wave action.)

Buyers and homeowners may access the Msc.fema.gov website or call 1-800-358-9616 to find out the classification of a property on flood maps.

The cost of flood insurance for a given level of coverage is the same regardless of the provider. Flood insurance may be purchased to cover the structure and contents. There are ceilings of coverage for flood insurance. Flood insurance covers a residential structure for a maximum of $250,000 and residential contents for a maximum of $100,000. Flood insurance in excess of the $250,000 federal limit for a residential structure may be provided by some insurance companies.

Should a home buyer get a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured financial provider, flood insurance will have to be obtained before the loan can close.

Also, flood insurance coverage can be transferred from one homeowner of the property to the buyer. Buyers should perform their own due diligence by contacting insurance agencies or carriers to explore applicable food insurance coverage and associated costs when considering a property in a flood zone.

Since Super Storm Sandy, an additional 51 homes in Greenwich were classified as being in a flood zone and 600 others are in zones where the Base Flood Elevation have been raised.

Unless a home is in conformance with FEMA’s higher flood elevations and regulations, insurance premiums will be higher. Understandably, new construction in flood zones must be in compliance with FEMA specifications.

 

Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 177 West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]

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