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When buying or building a home, it’s important to consider its geographical location and properties related to the land surrounding it. Knowing a bit about flood zones is an essential part of protecting your most valuable asset and viewing flood maps 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 designated flood zone, 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 designated flood zone. With only a fraction of people choosing to fortify their insurance coverage with flood insurance, many find themselves having to pick up the pieces and repair or replace property with their own funds. Standard homeowner policies do not typically cover flood damage, so adding flood insurance to your existing policy will provide you with protection and peace of mind that you are doing what you can to protect your property and loved ones.

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 to give 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 weather events that have occurred in the past
  • Damage incurred due to storms and flooding

Who Has Access to Flood Maps?

Flood maps are easily accessible to almost anyone; from business institutions to private citizens, all have access to this information as a means of protecting investments like homes and property from damage. Law enforcement agencies and community leaders may use this information to proactively plan and prepare for areas of significant concern. You as a homeowner have the opportunity to view flood maps to assess your level of risk and make preparations that will ensure the health and safety of you and your loved ones, as well as the security of any property that you procure in a designated flood zone. Federal agencies, construction companies, and insurance agencies also use flood maps to assess the level of risk in a particular area as a means of attaching property and insurance values to a structure.

Do Flood Maps Affect Insurance Coverage and Rates?

Flood maps do affect the cost and coverage of insurance that is offered to a property owner. 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 by insurance assessors. Some cities require the purchase of flood insurance if it is determined that your property is in a high-risk zone. Talk to a qualified insurance professional to determine your coverage needs, as well as what to expect to pay for a policy.

Does a Flood Map Document Real Flooding?

For the most part, flood maps predict the outcome of a geographical area, considering the types of events that have occurred in the past. 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 Maps Created?

Flood maps are created 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 suspected floodplain in 2D, helping to 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 likened to computer-generated cartography. This technology pinpoints areas that are likely to flood, when flooding can be expected, and even potential water depth, giving you the most detailed 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 flood maps, with digital maps being more accessible via FEMA’s digital service center. Simply type in your full address, and FEMA’s system will generate a very detailed flood map of your area, along with a legend explaining and evaluating the level of risk in your area.

Will a Flood Map Help to Predict Floods?

While it would be wonderful to predict what you can expect each flood season, the reality is that flood maps can only assess your level of risk, not predict future floods. Floods can be predicted, however, under the right conditions. The following information is needed to accurately predict future flooding:

  • 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 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 being located outside of “high risk” areas, there is no substitute for proper preparation and coverage.

Neptune Flooding: Providing Peace of Mind for You

Living in a flood zone can be risky, but it doesn’t have to cost you your life savings. Neptune Flood provides affordable flood coverage for you, your family, and your home, providing peace of mind in the most difficult of times. Expert technology and the use of algorithms and insurance expertise ensure that you are getting the best coverage that money can buy. Contact us today for a detailed 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.