The key ingredients to a flood Elevation Certificate are engineer obtained measurements (ie grade outside a home, basement floor, slab, garage floor, etc.) compared to a communities flood zone Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Properties in high-risk flood zones have a BFE, which reflects the height (in feet) above sea level that flood water is projected to rise in a “100-year” storm (a storm that has a 1% per year chance of causing the area to flood).
Basically, if your Elevation Certificate figures are greater than the communities BFE your flood insurance costs are substantially decreased. Inversely for elevation figures less than the BFE, the higher your flood insurance costs.
Local building department ordinances may require a homes elevation certificate prior to the installation of an upgraded electrical panel, generator or a new HVAC system, to insure devices are installed above the areas Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
When determining flood insurance rates, an Elevation Certificate can be used to support a specific home or buildings higher construction elevation compared to the flood zone BFE assigned to an entire community. In some cases, a few hundred dollar flood Elevation Certificate purchase can save thousands in future annual insurance premiums. For example, in a community with a high risk flood zone a dwelling that includes a basement often is below the area BFE and likely pays the highest flood insurance cost. Typically, dwellings built on a slab or crawl space pay less and most often are the best candidates for obtaining an elevation certificate to further reduce insurance costs.
Older constructed homes are referred to as Pre-FIRM buildings or those built before the effective date of the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for a community. At present, single family owner occupied homes can be insured using "subsidized" rates, thus reducing the cost of flood insurance. Post-FIRM buildings are both new construction and those built after the effective date of the first FIRM for a community. Insurance rates for Post-FIRM buildings are dependent on the elevation of the lowest floor (ie. basement flood, slab, crawlspace, etc.) compared to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). As such Post-Firm buildings require an Elevation Certificate to provide the elevation figures
Contact your local Flood Insurance agent to better understand your homes flood insurance needs and whether a flood Elevation Certificate may help your reduce insurance costs.