When considering the purchase of a home in a flood plain, make sure you are informed about all that is implied by that designation.
Just because the home is in what is considered a high-risk flood area doesn’t necessarily mean flood insurance is required. However, it is highly recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and by the National Flood Insurance Program – which administers flood insurance in the United States.
Your lender may require it, especially if your loan is backed or regulated by the U.S. government or an agency such as the Federal Housing Administration. If the home is designated as within a high-risk flood zone, flood insurance is mandatory.
Most homeowners’ policies don’t cover damage caused by a flood. Flood insurance must be obtained through the federal government and the National Flood Insurance Program. Individual insurance carriers also offer flood insurance if they are an agent for National Flood Insurance Program. Check around, as rates do vary.
When purchasing a home in a 100-year flood plain-designated area, be sure to ask the seller for an elevation certificate., which establishes a structure’s vertical elevation in relation to the 100-year flood plain. It is required by National Flood Insurance Program, a branch of FEMA, to document compliance with local flood-plain requirements and to determine flood insurance rates. You can check with the county Building Department to see if it has a certificate on file.
It is also a good idea for a potential buyer to ask the homeowners for a copy of their current flood insurance policy. The new owner may be able to assume the current policy at a better rate.
When La Plata County adopted revised flood-plain maps in 2010, grandfathering was an option for homeowners who had continuous flood insurance coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program’s grandfathering rules allow policyholders who were in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction to keep the original base flood elevation to calculate their insurance rates. This could result in significant savings.
The Flood Insurance Rate Map is distributed by FEMA. The purpose of the map is to outline the area’s flooding concerns.
The map is available online through FEMA’s website or you can request a copy by mail or by phone. At lpcgis.laplata.co.us/laplatasl just enter the home’s address, then on the left-side bar under “Advanced Search” scroll to 2010 FEMA Floodplain. The colored blue areas are designated 100-year flood plains.
Information on flood insurance is also available at www.FloodSmart.gov or by calling (800) 427-2419, and the National Flood Insurance Program at (800) 427-4661.
Kelly Kniffin is a Realtor at Legacy Properties West Sotheby’s International Realty, and a past president of the Durango Area Association of Realtors. She can be reached at Kelly@homesdurangoco.com.