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Can you get flood insurance without an elevation certificate?


Elevation certificates were the only way that the NFIP had real data on your properties because of their archaic maps and practices. And since they were a monopoly for 50 years, they used to force policyholder’s compliance and, in particular, forced structures built after 1973 to have an elevation certificate to get flood coverage.

That is not true now – you can get flood insurance without an elevation certificate with the NFIP and private flood insurance markets.

Please note: If you are building a new home in a high-risk flood zone. Your local government might require you to get an elevation certificate (EC) to ensure that the intended structure is constructed high enough to the base flood elevation (BFE).

In the past, the National flood insurance program, in their government mindset and wisdom, felt that they had to force everyone to get an elevation certificate, so they started a standard increase every year until an EC was applied. Sometimes I’m not too fond of this program. Well, this caused people to overpay flood insurance on top of the cost of getting an EC which can be anywhere from 500 to 2500 to get one. The real rub is that sometimes the Elevation certificate caused the premium to go up. Few people could get an elevation certificate showing that the home was sitting much higher than FEMA thought. In these instances, the property owner could pursue a LOMA Letter of map amendment that will remove the requirement for the lender to mandate flood insurance purchase. It is good to know that this doesn’t remove the risk of flooding, and many properties still flood after getting this paperwork.

So now to today. The NFIP 2.0 rating that took effect in October 2021 basically removed the requirement to get an elevation certificate to get the NFIP policy. YOu see, the private flood insurance market has been using the latest technology and maps shot from planes and satellites and have a more accurate view of the landscape than the NFiP outdated maps (many 50 years old). The private flood insurance market is also using supercomputers to run various computer-generated rain and flooding simulations to see what homes and buildings are most at risk and, based on that, assign coverage options and premiums. They have been doing this since 2012, and the technology improves yearly.

Finally, the government monopoly woke up and thought, “wow, we will lose all this premium. We need to compete with the private market; let’s use the same technology they have been using for a decade now.” And the risk rating 2.0 program was created by the NFIP.

So the short answer is yes, you can get the NFIP and the Private flood insurance options without an Elevation certificate. If you have one (sometimes), it can get you a better rate on the NFIP (though we don’t see this all too often).

If you are building a new home or renovating more than 50% of the market price, your local government might require an elevation certificate. Also, suppose you are taking advantage of a government program and have had a loss that will allow you to elevate the structure. In that case, you will need to get an elevation certificate before and post that shows your intent and actual elevation after the construction.

And official Elevation certificates need to be done by a FEMA-approved land surveyor (I don’t know why they have to be FEMA approved 80% of all the EC we see are completed wrong). They go out as a professional to get measurements with all kinds of tools and fill out section C on the EC (see one here).

Technically you can, as a homeowner can, do your elevation certificate and fill out section e. I have coached a few clients through this.

I don’t know if the cost associated with an EC for most of you would make any sense, especially since you can get flood insurance without an elevation certificate.

If you want to discuss this further, let me know.

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