Elevation Certificates: Why You Need Them
Elevation Certificates are important documents that state the elevation of buildings. In addition to elevation, Elevation Certificates also describe the building location, Lowest Floor Elevation, building characteristics, and flood zone. If your home or business is in a high-risk flood zone, Elevation Certificates are indispensable.
One reason why you need Elevation Certificates is to ensure that your building follows the required local standards. Since 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has made flood insurance available to property owners. In return, they required municipalities to adopt ordinances for buildings located within floodplains in order to prevent increased flooding and minimize flood damage. Elevation Certificates confirm that these buildings are properly elevated and may be occupied. Elevation Certificates are not only necessary for floodplain managers to enforce local building ordinance, but also for insurance rating purposes.
In order to ensure your flood insurance policy accurately reflects your flood risk, it is critical to provide your insurance agent your Elevation Certificate. Your agent will use the Elevation Certificate to compare your building’s elevation to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) and determine the insurance premium cost. The BFE estimates how high the water will rise during a flood.
Generally, in high-risk zones, indicated by the letters A or V on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), the higher your lowest floor is above the BFE, the lower the risk of your property flooding. Lower flood risks mean lower flood insurance premiums. If you are in the process of building a new property, you may want to think about building higher than the BFE. This is an efficient way to lower not only your flood risk but, in turn, lower your flood insurance rates as well. Elevation Certificates provide the necessary documentation to make these determinations.
Even if you already have an Elevation Certificate, obtaining a new one might be required. In order to ensure compliance with floodplain ordinances and to determine the proper flood insurance rates, you don’t need just any Elevation Certificate. You need an up-to-date one. For example, if you make substantial changes to your building you will need a new Elevation Certificate to reflect the new building characteristics and Lowest Floor Elevation. These modifications can include converting a garage to living space or even a home expansion.
In addition to being up-to-date, Elevation Certificates must also be accurate. An alarmingly high percentage of Elevation Certificates contain errors and/or omissions. Common mistakes found include substandard pictures that don’t meet specifications; incorrect building diagram number; incorrect flood map reference; incorrect flood zone and BFE; failure to perform required datum conversion on building elevations; and many more.
Flood Insurance Solutions, Inc. (FISI) can help make sure your Elevation Certificates are up-to-date and accurate with a complimentary review of your existing certificates or providing a no obligation estimate for new Elevation Certificates today. Over 50% of the elevation certificates have errors that can cause the property owner to pay more for flood insurance premiums. Here at FISI, every elevation certificate is checked by our flood specialists for any errors and if any are found, FISI will have the surveyor make the appropriate correction. And at no additional cost. Our quality control system ensures that documents are correct and complete, which allow property owners, brokers and communities to make sound decisions regarding flood coverage and mitigation efforts.