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Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1 (2015)

Chapter: Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations." National Research Council. 2015. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21709.
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Appendix E

NFIP Flood Designations

Moderate to Low Risk Areas

In communities that participate in the NFIP, flood insurance is available to all property owners and renters in these zones:

ZONE DESCRIPTION
B and X Area of moderate flood hazard, usually the area between the limits of the 100-year and 500-year floods. Are also used to designate base floodplains of lesser hazards, such as areas protected by levees from 100-year flood, or shallow flooding areas with average depths of less than one foot or drainage areas less than 1 square mile.
C and X Area of minimal flood hazard, usually depicted on FIRMs as above the 500-year flood level.

High Risk Areas

In communities that participate in the NFIP, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply to all of these zones:

ZONE DESCRIPTION
A Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Because detailed analyses are not performed for such areas; no depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations." National Research Council. 2015. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21709.
×
AE The base floodplain where base flood elevations are provided. AE Zones are now used on new format FIRMs instead of A1-A30 Zones.
A1-30 These are known as numbered A Zones (e.g., A7 or A14). This is the base floodplain where the FIRM shows a BFE (old format).
AH Areas with a 1% annual chance of shallow flooding, usually in the form of a pond, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.
AO River or stream flood hazard areas, and areas with a 1% or greater chance of shallow flooding each year, usually in the form of sheet flow, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Average flood depths derived from detailed hydraulic analyses are shown within these zones.
AR Areas with a temporarily increased flood risk due to the building or restoration of a flood control system (such as a levee or a dam). Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements will apply, but rates will not exceed the rates for unnumbered A zones if the structure is built or restored in compliance with Zone AR floodplain management regulations.
A99 Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding that will be protected by a Federal flood control system where construction has reached specified legal requirements. No depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones.

High Risk - Coastal Areas

In communities that participate in the NFIP, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply to all of these zones:

ZONE DESCRIPTION
V Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. No base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
VE, V1 - 30 Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations." National Research Council. 2015. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21709.
×

Undetermined Risk Areas

ZONE DESCRIPTION
D Areas with possible but undetermined flood hazards. No flood hazard analysis has been conducted. Flood insurance rates are commensurate with the uncertainty of the flood risk.

SOURCE: FEMA’s Map Service Center, available online at https://msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/info?storeId=10001&catalogI=10001&Id=-1&content=floodZones&title=FEM A%2520Flood%2520Zone%2520Designations [accessed March 2015].

Suggested Citation:"Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations." National Research Council. 2015. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21709.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations." National Research Council. 2015. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21709.
×
Page 143
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations." National Research Council. 2015. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21709.
×
Page 144
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations." National Research Council. 2015. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21709.
×
Page 145
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E-- NFIP Flood Designations." National Research Council. 2015. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21709.
×
Page 146
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The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and offers insurance policies that are marketed and sold through private insurers, but with the risks borne by the U.S. federal government. NFIP's primary goals are to ensure affordable insurance premiums, secure widespread community participation in the program, and earn premium and fee income that covers claims paid and program expenses over time. In July 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act (Biggert-Waters 2012), designed to move toward an insurance program with NFIP risk-based premiums that better reflected expected losses from floods at insured properties. This eliminated policies priced at what the NFIP called "pre-FIRM subsidized" and "grandfathered." As Biggert-Waters 2012 went into effect, constituents from multiple communities expressed concerns about the elimination of lower rate classes, arguing that it created a financial burden on policy holders. In response to these concerns Congress passed The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA 2014). The 2014 legislation changed the process by which pre-FIRM subsidized premiums for primary residences would be removed and reinstated grandfathering. As part of that legislation, FEMA must report back to Congress with a draft affordability framework.

Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1 is the first part of a two-part study to provide input as FEMA prepares their draft affordability framework. This report discusses the underlying definitions and methods for an affordability framework and the affordability concept and applications. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums gives an overview of the demand for insurance and the history of the NFIP premium setting. The report then describes alternatives for determining when the premium increases resulting from Biggert-Waters 2012 would make flood insurance unaffordable.

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