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Q. Will I save money on flood insurance for my home?

A. You will pay more in flood insurance if you do not comply with the new elevations. According to FEMA, a property that’s four feet below the advisory elevation in a high-hazard area could cost the owner roughly $31,000 a year for flood insurance. The premium drops to $7,000 if the home is at the new standard, and falls to $3,500 if the house is built two feet higher. Learn how you could save more than $90,000 over 10 years if you build 3 feet above Base Flood Elevation. Read More…

Q. What is a base flood elevation?

A. It’s a height calculated by FEMA that marks the level of floodwater during a 100-year storm. The base flood elevation and the actual elevation of your house play a large part in determining your flood insurance rates.

Q. How can I find out what my current base flood elevation is?

A. Check your local municipal building department or property records to find existing base flood elevations. To find your new advisory elevation, please visit FEMA’s ‘What is My ABFE?’  address lookup tool and enter your address in the form. Select “Get Details” to see your ABFE and Flood Zone.

Q. What are advisory base flood elevations, and what changes will they bring?

A. The advisory elevations are the new base flood elevations recommended by FEMA as the agency works on an updated Flood Insurance Rate Map for New Jersey. That insurance rate map is what determines your insurance premium — not the advisory elevations themselves. There might be some changes to the elevations after FEMA unveils its preliminary insurance map later this year, though the agency doesn’t anticipate major differences. Until that map goes into effect, possibly in early 2015, insurance premiums will not be affected. So far, FEMA is calling for changes that will drastically alter homes along New Jersey’s barrier islands and the shores of Raritan Bay, with many buildings needing to be raised to help prevent future flood damage. In communities such as the Ortley Beach section of Toms River and Union Beach, that could mean elevating your house more than four feet.

Q. What is a “V” zone?

A. The most vulnerable homes are in the “V” zones, which are waterfront areas that are at highest risk for flooding and 3-foot breaking waves. But houses may still need to be raised in the coastal “A” zone, which isn’t as vulnerable as the “V” zone but is still subject to major damage . Nothing is final until the flood maps go into effect.

Q. Are towns and residents required to obey the advisory elevations?

A. New Jersey has adopted the federal government’s advisory elevations, but ultimately it’s up to the municipalities to make them a requirement.

Q. What if I cannot afford to raise my house?

A. According to FEMA, there are three ways the federal government can help:

  1. low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration
  2. FEMA grants and
  3. Increased Cost of Compliance coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program

The Increased Cost of Compliance coverage, commonly called ICC, can provide up to $30,000 to homes insured under the National Flood Insurance Program. However, property owners are only eligible for ICC if their property suffered damages totaling 50 percent or more of the pre-storm market value, or if they suffer repetitive flooding.

If you don’t qualify for ICC, you might be eligible for grants from FEMA. The agency provides up to $31,900 to hurricane victims registered in its Individuals and Households Program. However, the program only pays for repairs that aren’t covered by insurance.

FEMA also has a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which is only available to state and local governments. Individuals cannot apply, but they can ask their governments to apply on their behalf. Property buyouts and structure elevations can be covered through this program.

If those options are ruled out, low-interest disaster loans from the SBA are available. A homeowner can borrow up to $200,000 for 30 years at 1.67 percent interest to repair or replace a primary residence to its pre-storm condition. A business owner can borrow up to $2 million at 4 percent interest.

Q. I’m already raising my house. What if the advisory elevations change again when the flood insurance rate maps come out, and my home falls short of the threshold for lower insurance premiums?

A. Either you can build even higher, or you can absorb the financial loss. FEMA recommends raising your home even higher than the advisory elevations just in case there are any alterations.

Q. If I choose not to comply with the new elevations, will that affect what I receive from FEMA in the future?

A. There won’t be any repercussions from FEMA, however you must be prepared to pay higher insurance premiums.

Q. What if I have questions which are not addressed by this FAQ?

A. We recommend that you email us from our Contact page or call us at 732-800-3042 for further information.

Q. How will Flood Insurance Affect the Value of your Home?