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City Views

City Views presents commentary from staff on the latest projects, initiatives, and successes.

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Sep 02

Why do I need flood insurance?

Posted on September 2, 2014 at 12:27 PM by OCOM Specialist

By Joanna Grey, Customer Service Representative

Did you know that standard homeowners insurance does not cover flooding? If you building is located in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and federal or federally-related financial assistance is associated with the building then you are required to purchase flood  insurance. If you purchased, constructed, repaired or improved a structure within the SFHA with federal monies derived (in totality or only in part) through federally backed loans or grants then this mandatory purchase flood insurance applies. This requirement also applies to machinery, equipment, fixtures, and furnishings contained in such buildings.

Even if you are not required to purchase flood insurance it is still a prudent measure for any homeowner. If you live in a high-risk area like the SFHA there is a greater than one-in-four chance that you will experience a flood during 30 years of owning that property. Even if your property is located outside of the SFHA no guarantees exist that your property will not flood. Homeowners with properties not within the SFHA may purchase flood insurance at reduced rates.

The City of Falls Church participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP makes federally-backed flood insurance available for all buildings, whether the building is in the floodplain or not. Flood insurance covers direct loss caused by surface flooding, including a river flowing over its banks, a lake or ocean storm, and local drainage problems. As a result of Falls Church's Class 7 rating by the NFIP Community Rating System, policies within the SFHA receive a 15% premium reduction and policies outside the SFHA receive a 5% premium reduction.

Yet, before a person can receive a loan or other financial assistance, an elevation certificate must be obtained to determine if the building is in a SFHA. The SFHA is the base (100 - year) floodplain mapped on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). On FIRM areas contained within zones that begin with the letter "A" are considered within SFHA.

Copies of the FIRM are available for viewing online and at the City of Falls Church Department of Public Works (300 Park Avenue). Many lenders and insurance agents also have copies. It is the agency's or lender's responsibility to determine if the building is in a SFHA.

For more information, visit the floodplain webpage or contact Matthew Hansen at 703-248-5298.