Flood Zone Map: What is It?


4 min read ยท Mar 25, 2022

When buying or building a home, it’s important to consider its geographical location and properties that relate to the land surrounding it. Knowing a bit about flood zones is an essential part of protecting your most valuable asset. Additionally, viewing maps that show flood zones in your area is one of the most effective ways to assess your potential risk of incurring flood damage.

Monitoring Flood Zone Maps for More Information

Even if you live outside of a flood zone area, you may be at risk for flood damage. According to statistics from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 25 percent of all flood insurance claims fall outside a known flood zone. With only a fraction of people who actually have flood insurance, many find themselves having to pick up the pieces and repair or replace property out of pocket. Standard homeowner policies do not typically cover flood damage, so be sure to add flood insurance to your existing policy. This will provide you with protection and peace of mind.

What is a Flood Map?

Whether you face the onslaught of a hurricane or a mere few inches of water from a flooded riverbed, you run the risk of incurring significant damage to your home and property. A Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is a document created and released by FEMA. This gives you access to the most up-to-date information on current flood trends and damage incurred to homes and property. This information is gleaned over numerous flood seasons, taking into account:

  • Annual rainfall statistics.
  • Historic weather patterns in your area.
  • Significant past weather events.
  • Damage due to storms and flooding.

Who Has Access to Flood Zone Maps?

Maps that show flood zones are easily accessible to almost anyone; from business institutions to private citizens. Law enforcement agencies and community leaders may use this information to proactively plan and prepare for areas of significant concern. That said, you as a homeowner have the opportunity to view these types of maps to assess your level of risk during natural disasters.

Flood zone maps also help you make preparations that will ensure the health and safety of you and your family, as well as the security of any property. Federal agencies, construction companies, and insurance agencies also use them to assess the level of risk in a particular area. This can be used as a means of adding property and insurance values.

Do They Affect Insurance Coverage and Rates?

Flood maps can affect the cost and coverage of insurance offered to property owners. If you own property in an area of low risk, you can expect your insurance premiums to be lower than if you live in an area that is considered high risk. Some cities require the purchase of flood insurance if they determine that your property is in a high-risk zone. Talk to an insurance professional to determine your coverage needs, as well as what to expect to pay for a policy.

Do They Document Real Flooding?

For the most part, these maps predict the outcome of a geographical area, considering the types of past events. Map drafters use this information to create hypothetical floods, which help residents to understand the level of risk they may face if their home is in those zones.

How are Flood Zone Maps Created?

You can create this type of map by using a number of innovative technologies, including:

  • LIDAR technology.
  • TRIMR2D computer models.
  • Geographical information systems.

LIDAR, or light detection and ranging, simulates flow for a floodplain in 2D. This helps predict which pathways water will follow in an actual flood.

TRIMR2D computer models are known as flow models. They help to solve equations that explain the physics of fluid flow.

GIS, or geographical information system, is an innovative technology that can be alike computer-generated cartography. This technology pinpoints areas that are likely to flood, when to expect a flood, and even potential water depth. This gives you the most in-depth information on what you might expect for your area.

What Types of Flood Maps are Available to Me?

Homeowners have access to both paper and online maps, with digital maps being more accessible via FEMA’s digital service center. You can do this by following these steps: Start by typing in your full address. Then, FEMA’s system will generate a very detailed map of your area, along with a legend explaining and evaluating the level of flood risk in your area.

Will it Help Predict Floods?

While it is wonderful to be able to predict what you can expect each flood season, the reality is that flood maps can only assess your level of risk. However, floods are predictable under the right conditions. In order to efficiently predict a flood, you will need the following information:

  • Assessment of rainfall totals in real-time.
  • Assessment of changes in water levels, also in real-time.
  • An evaluation of a storm’s duration, size, and intensity.
  • Awareness of soil moisture, ground temperature, and vegetation that could impact absorption and water flow.

While Technology is Good, Flood Maps aren’t Foolproof

Flood zone maps might be an innovative tool for helping you make decisions about your home, but they are not foolproof. With nearly 20 percent of flood insurance claims outside of “high risk” areas, there is no substitute for proper preparation and coverage.

Neptune Flood: Providing Peace of Mind for You

Living in a flood zone can be risky, but it should not cost you your life savings. Neptune Flood offers affordable flood coverage for you, your family, and your home. This provides peace of mind in the most difficult of times. That said, expert technology, the use of algorithms, and insurance expertise ensure that you are getting the best coverage that money can buy. Contact us today for an assessment and quote for your property, and look forward to coverage in any type of weather.

Original article published October 2018. Updated content and references March 2022.