Looking to Get Out of the Special Flood Hazard Zone?

The Odds Are In Your Favor

With the recent updates in FEMA flood maps, many property owners are understandably concerned about rising flood insurance in Massachusetts. For some, it’s a matter of seeing their current rates double, triple or worse, while others now have to acquire flood insurance for the first time.

What many property owners do not realize is that FEMA flood zone determinations are based on whole areas rather than an individual building’s actual elevation. So while a property or building may be located in an area known as a Special Flood Hazard Area, the structure itself may not pose such a risk. Without determining the building’s actual elevation, flood insurance is typically required.

For homeowners concerned with rising flood insurance rates, it can pay to get an elevation certificate. While there is no guarantee that you will be removed from the flood zone, we have found the numbers to generally be on the homeowner’s side. In fact, we tallied up the elevation certificates that we’ve done over the past two years, all across the state, and while we weren’t able to get everyone out of FEMA flood zones, we were happily surprised by how many we were. In fact, more than half of those we surveyed were able to be removed from the flood zone.

Here were a few interesting tidbits that we teased out of the numbers. Half of those elevations certificates in Beverly that we did saw properties removed from the flood zone. Two-thirds of the elevation certificates in Boston were successful in removing properties from the flood zone. All of the elevation certificates in

Billerica and all of the elevation certificates in Danvers were successful. The elevation certificates in Essex and the elevation certificates in Lynn that we did were split half and half. All of the elevation certificates in Georgetown, all of the elevation certificates in Lowell, and all of the elevation certificates in Malden saw the properties successfully removed from flood zones.

And what about those who couldn’t be removed? Many of them actually saw their flood insurance rates decrease when their insurance carriers were provided with their property’s actual elevation after our survey. So while an elevation certificate may not guarantee an end to flood insurance, the odds are in your favor and even when they’re not, you may still save with reduced insurance rates.