Flood Insurance - Anyone successful filing for Map Amendment?

17 Replies

FYI: Will repost this in the Property Insurance Category since I did not get any comments when this was posted in my local area. 

We have a multifamily property that is in a designated A14 for flood zone and as such in a higher risk of flooding needing a flood insurance. We did not get a certificate of elevation via land survey before we bought this property. Wondering if anyone has been successful in getting a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) to FEMA (if the certificate of elevation supports it) and changed their designation out of the flood zone?

Looking forward to hear about others experiences. Thanks!

Licensed surveyor and certified land engineer have to draw out the map, show findings and disprove mine government, the fees, the forms and send to FEMA for a review .001 percent chance of over turning with all the flooding in the US today. Subject has to be on a natural hill not fill.

When or if you have flood damage and no coverage it's usually a 90% loss of structure as the drywall, electric, and anything submerged is putrid and ruined.  Is subject near a creek or river? or what

Erick,

We just started working with a new Flood Insurance carrier.  The ownership is extremely knowledgeable on Flood.  I will see if they have any suggestions and PM you.  

Promotion
Guaranteed Rate
Guaranteed Rate is a top mortgage lender
Save $1,290 on your next home – no lender fee*
Get special perks like $1,290 in lender fee savings when you buy a second home with Guaranteed Rate.
Apply Now

Erick,

Just spoke to the company. They felt that it will be difficult to get the LOMA without the elevation certificate. Some of the private market Flood Insurers do not use the FEMA flood zones but rather their own software based on location. You may want to shop the flood coverage and find out if you can get an inexpensive policy without spending on the Elevation Certificate.

@Caroline Gerardo It seems like a very slim chance of overturning a flood zone designation. The property is in Central Massachusetts in a city called Leominster. It's in the downtown location actually, there's a nearby creek about a block away. 

@John Mocker Thank you for the message, so getting the Elevation Certificate seems to be the initial first step. 

Do you think an Elevation Certificate can at least lower the price of the flood insurance if the designation is not as low?

@Erick Sembrano hey man your in my home town! I actually own a 2 family in Fitchburg that has the same information and know the area of Leominster you are speaking of has the same issue.  It is in a flood zone, but we have never seen anything close in my lifetime.  I had an elevation survey done on my fitchburg one with no luck, but I did find an insurance company who sold me Flood insurance for less then $400.  My guess they looked at it and said no way this thing is flooding.  I can give you the insurance persons name I used if you want.  Shoot me a message

You read this right?  https://www.leominster-ma.gov/...   "burden of proof on you"  I would say without evidence from an engineer and a surveyor that the city trusts AND Planning Desk you have no chance of overturning.   City is forcing flood insurance to avoid the city cost of cleanup. What is address?

Timely - I just spoke with a company about a week ago that works on this exact issue. Company is called National Flood Experts. They quoted me about a grand to do the elevation survey for one of my properties, and about another grand if they get it taken out of the flood zone. So the first grand is a sunk cost, the second one is only charged if they're successful. My flood insurance is about $625/annual, so on a long-term buy & hold it's probably worthwhile to do if you have a lender-requirement for flood insurance. I am going to work on it at the beginning of the year so I'll be glad to come back and post how I made out. 

@Erick Sembrano try the company floodsimple for coverage, they were very affordable compared to other insurers when we needed coverage on a 5 unit in a very similar situation. We just did minimum required coverage on the policy since we felt the risk of actual flood damage was very low. I have not had any luck overturning flood designations myself but I know they can be done in certain circumstances. 

@Jason Regan Hi Jason, glad to know someone from the Leominster area respond. Thanks for sharing your experience, sounds like something positive may come out of getting an elevation certificate even if I can just reduce the cost of the flood insurance. That would be great if you can PM med the name of your insurance person. Thanks!

@Caroline Gerardo Thanks for the link, it's a helpful read although I still don't understand most of it. It seems like as you said the burden of proof is on me and other property owners. Here's the add - 41 Pleasant St Leominster MA

@JD Martin Thanks for sharing the company, would be interested to hear about what will happen with your situation, if you could give us an update that would be great. 

@Jonathan Bombaci Thanks for the company share, will look into it and hope I can decreased by insurance cost. Will also see how far I go with getting an elevation certificate and diving deep into this rabbit hole. 

https://floodfactor.com/proper...

MLS said it is in flood zone when you purchased.

 A block from a creek, Rockewell and Barrett flow towards your property, your location is lower than both. The block foundation could fill with water and the fill in the basement might crumble causing structural damage. Be ready. Set up a sump pump with a way to measure moisture during storms. The city planning link I sent says they are holding owners 100% responsible and aren't going to pay for cleanup. Link above provides some details about risk level 2.7 feet of water. When you bought did you get a Clue report to see about prior claims? 

I have found that the key to getting a LOMA from FEMA is 2 fold.

1) you have to know the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for your property. This is how high the floodwaters could go in the event of major flooding. Here is a link where you can put in your property and see a map that will help you identify if the structure is in a high-risk flood zone and also give you a good idea of what the BFE is. 

You need to understand that flood insurance is catastrophic insurance meaning that you only will want it and should have it in the event of a catastrophic event such as flooding, wildfires, landslides, and earthquakes). A claim can wipe you out financially unless you have money set aside to pay for the damages. 

This applies to all Insurance - Its aim is to reduce financial uncertainty and make accidental loss manageable. It does this by substituting payment of a small, known fee—an insurance premium—to a professional insurer in exchange for the assumption of the risk of a large loss, and a promise to pay in the event of such a loss. We all insure our health, auto, homes from fire and theft - most want to avoid paying for flooding coverage. Even though statistically we are all more likely to have a flood - 20% more likely than any of the other major claims we are used to paying for, this is why floods are excluded from your hazard/homeowner insurance insurers know that you are more likely to have a flood that is why they won't cover it. 

The success of a LOMA is the Base flood Elevation (BFE) then you have to see where the height of the lowest adjencet grade (LAG) if the LAG is higher than the BFE then you have a good chance of getting the LOMA. This can take months and as some have identified in this thread you need an elevation certificate (EC) done by a licensed surveyor and one that is approved by FEMA to fill out the EC's. I see lots of EC and often times need to tell the surveyor how to fix their work because most don't know how to fill out this document. (here's a link to the template for an EC) 

The BFE will be identified in the B section and specifically the B9 box. 

The LAF will be identified in the C2 section and specifically the C2f box. If this number is higher than the B9 then you will have a good chance of getting the LOMA you desire. If not then you should google (Private flood insurance) or (Lloyds of London Flood Insurance) you can also check out this article that Investopedia did on flood insurance.

Best of luck with all your ventures. 

Promotion
Avail
Landlording made easy.
Best-in-Class Platform for DIY Landlords
List unlimited units, screen tenants, draft and sign leases, and collect rent—all free.
Use Avail—Free!

Hi Erick,

I am an insurance agent in NJ and I sell flood insurance regularly. one thing that no one has mentioned yet is that FEMA is changing the way flood zones and rates are calculated. It will now basically be more of a distance from a hazard area vs. before a static line on a map. Suggestions below:

1-you will probably see changes to your NFIP policy at next renewal.  Assuming you have a NFIP policy.

2-In order to do any kind of appeal you will need an elevation certificate.  They usually run about $500. Surprised that you didn't get it before as it is only way to get accurate price.

3-You do not need a service to do the appeal for you once you have the elevation cert.  You can do it yourself or through the broker that sold you your policy.  That is part of what you are paying them for is service.

4-You should look into private flood options, not available in all areas, as you will not need an elevation cert.  Plus they can offer more areas of coverage that are not available on NFIP policies.

Hope that helps,

Sean

@Caroline Gerardo that is really informative! Thanks for the link and also for the insights. As this is my first time to buy in that area and also a property that is in a flood zone, I did not have much idea about it. Having said that, I did not get a Clue report. 

@Robert Murphy It's nice to hear from someone from the insurance side of things. Yes, I do agree completely about having insurance for something catastrophic that I wouldn't be able to shoulder on my own if a bad flood happens. Thank you so much for writing out the steps and how it's done and the process. Sounds like the first step is really to determine BFE with an Elevation Certificate, figure out LAG, and see if there's a chance to get the LOMA. Really appreciate your input! 

@Sean K. Thanks for the reply! Do you know if the FEMA flood zone / rate changes will be for the better or worse in terms of cost for coverage? I will look into other policies to hopefully bring my cost down if possible while getting the same coverage. Thanks again!

Erick it would depend on your distance from the flooding source in general.  The elevation certificate helps b/c then you know exactly where you in relation to the BFE(base flood elevation) as that is what all calculations are based off of.

I've sold flood insurance to people less then one block from beach at less then $1k b/c their house was elevated.