An elevation certificate is a tool used by the National Flood Insurance Program. Elevation certificates are created by a flood zone surveyor. They are used to certify building elevations for buildings located in an SFHA. The purpose of the certificate is two-fold. First, they help determine flood insurance premium rates. Next, they help support a Letter of Map Amendment or Letter of Map Revision based on a fill. Elevation certificates are an important part of building assessment. They are only accepted when they are awarded by a certified flood zone surveyor.
To determine your flood risk and cost of insurance, a flood zone surveyor will compare your building’s elevation to the estimated 1% chance of flooding will reach during a major flood. They are only necessary for homes or businesses that are in a high-risk flood zone area. This documentation is also helpful for flood plain managers who are working to enforce local ordinances.
How is an Elevation Certificate Used
When creating an elevation certificate, your flood zone surveyor looks at important information to determine your flood risk. This assessment includes the location of your building, building characteristics, and the Lowest Adjacent Grade (LAG). Once they have collected this important data, your insurance agent will use it to compare your risk. The cost of obtaining an elevation certificate varies based on occupancy type, structure type, demand, location, timing, data quality, and flood zone.
In most cases, an elevation certificate is required to issue flood coverage. Once you receive an elevation certificate, you will not need to get a new one if the structure information remains the same. If you are purchasing a new property, there may already be an elevation certificate in existence. You can check on file in your municipality, with the seller or builder before hiring a flood zone surveyor. If you live in a high-risk area and make substantial changes to your building, like building an addition to your home, you will be required to get a new elevation certificate. Your licensed surveyor will be able to give you advice as to whether you need a new elevation certificate.
Although the letter distributed from FEMA has caused somewhat of a panic, getting an elevation certificate is a simple process. Talk to one of our certified flood zone surveyors today to keep your insurance premiums at the lowest rate possible.