If you are buying property in Texas and there is a flood risk, chances are you will need to learn about flood elevation certificates. These documents confirm property features, including location, flood zone, building characteristics and the elevation of the lowest floor. Issued by FEMA’S National Flood Insurance Program, insurance companies use them to determine your premium. Here are common questions about flood elevation certificates in Texas.
Why would I need a flood elevation certificate?
A flood elevation certificate measures a property’s vulnerability to flood damage. It describes the different factors contributing to this likelihood and whether there is a good chance you may face a flood. Insurance companies review these certificates to determine coverage and the amount of the premium.
Flood elevation certificates discuss location, flood zone, any building certificates (if there are buildings on the lot) and the parts of the property most susceptible to floods. If you have a basement or garage, you will require a surveyor to assess the appropriate elevation to see how likely those areas will be affected by the floodplain.
The certificate contains a scoring system to determine the likelihood of floods. It is based on the Base Flood Elevation for your location, which is the point where the NFIP estimates there is a 1 percent chance of flooding. The risk of flooding is assessed by how far above the BFE your property is located—the higher you are located, the less risk that is assessed.
Do I need it to be insured?
You only need to purchase a flood elevation certificate if:
- You use financing from a federally regulated or insured lender;
- The property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area; and
- You decide to purchase flood insurance from an NFIP-backed distributor.
If you are not certain if your property resides in a high-risk area, check out a FEMA flood insurance map. It will show specific high-risk locations and whether your property falls into one of them.
However, private insurance carriers may not require a flood elevation certificate. While considering a purchase, ask your insurance agent if securing a certificate may lower your premium.
Should I get an elevation certificate?
Even if you are in a low-risk area, securing a certificate may still be worth the effort. It can help you lower your flood insurance premiums and qualify for NFIP-backed insurance. Properties near high-risk areas could be unfairly assigned higher premiums. Showing that you are outside the high-risk area could help you counter that possibility.
How do I get one?
If you are buying property, the seller may already have a flood elevation certificate. In that case, you simply need to ask for it as part of the disclosure process.
You can also secure certificates from your local floodplain manager. They are responsible for drafting the flood maps and damage reduction policies, so they will have access to any certificates. You can also secure certificates from your seller or property developer, or it could be attached to your deed.
If you cannot secure a flood elevation certificate from one of these other sources, you will need to hire a surveyor. It will cost a few hundred dollars, but if it is necessary to secure insurance or lower your premiums, that investment is likely to be well worth it.
If you are in need of land surveying services, D.G. Smyth & Co., Inc. offers the expertise for boundary determination and flood elevation certificates in Texas. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.