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Disagree with a Home’s Flood Map? Contest It

Some homeowners may pay hundreds more for flood insurance than their neighbor, and part of the problem could be a location at the edge of a flood insurance map.

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) produces flood maps that create zones. Each zone represents the potential danger from future flooding.

A short while ago, a home’s location in a Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) dictated the amount of money the owner would be charged for a policy under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Today, however, flood zone is still an important part, but under NFIP’s 2.0 program, a quote also takes into consideration other mitigating factors.

Still, it’s not uncommon for one homeowner to be surprised their flood insurance quote is a lot higher than their neighbor’s quote, and the cause could be that the edge of a high-risk flood zone runs between the properties.

For this and other reasons, FEMA offers a way to contest a flood zone. It offers that option because “small areas may be inadvertently shown within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) even though the property is on natural ground and is at or above the elevation of the one-percent-annual-chance flood.” It calls these parcels “inadvertent inclusions.”

Another possible reason FEMA will consider removing a home for a high-risk flood zone: “For other small areas, earthen fill may have been placed during construction, thereby elevating a small area … above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE),” and “it may not have been possible for FEMA to show this area as being outside the SFHA, and so these areas have been incorrectly included in the SFHA on the FIRM.”

The process requires paperwork and possibly patience, but certain homeowners could net a lower bill for flood insurance if their property is backed out of a high-risk flood zone.

For more information, visit FEMA’s webpage, Requesting a Change to the Flood Insurance Rate Map.

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