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What Is Flood Zone A? Your Risk and Insurance Costs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses flood zones to determine flood risks throughout the United States. Flood Zone A locations have a high flood risk because of their proximity to large bodies of water, such as ponds and lakes.

Although a standard homeowners policy protects homes against damages from fires, windstorms and other perils, home insurance doesn't cover flood damages. 

Homeowners must buy flood insurance to cover losses caused by floodwaters. In high-risk Zone A areas, FEMA requires homeowners to purchase flood coverage, especially if they have a federal mortgage.

What Is Flood Zone A?

Flood Zone A communities have a higher chance of floods due to their proximity to ponds, lakes and other large bodies of water.

On FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and Flood Hazard Boundary Map, the federal agency classifies Zone A as a Special Flood Hazard Area, which has a 1% annual risk of a major flood, also known as the base flood or 100-year flood. This percentage translates to a 26% chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage period.

In high-risk Zone A areas, FEMA requires homeowners to purchase flood coverage

FEMA further sections this zone into specific classes based on each community's flood rating and risks. Zone A locations have identical base flood premiums that include AE, AH, AO and A99.

Insuring Flood Zone A

Are homes in Flood Zone A required to have flood insurance?

 SFHA locations, like Zone A, have a one-in-four risk of a flood during a 30-year mortgage. Under federal law, Flood Zone A homeowners and businesses must carry flood insurance if they have federal mortgages.

Is my house in a flood zone?

You may identify your home's flood risk by using FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), which displays each community's SFHAs and risk premium zones. You can learn about your area's flooding risk in these ways.

How do flood zones affect home insurance costs?

Flood zones don't affect your homeowners insurance premiums; however, your zone impacts your flood insurance rates. Other factors include your home's elevation, foundation, your area's flood frequency risks and BFE (the height that floodwaters reach in base flood periods).

The national average for NFIP flood insurance in Zone A is $2,841 a year.

Flood Zone A doesn't have BFE values, because FEMA hasn't performed hydraulic analyses in these areas; however, these communities still have a high flood risk because of their proximity to water.

How much is flood insurance in Flood Zone A?

The national average for NFIP flood insurance in Zone A is $2,841 a year. This figure is $1,800 more than the estimated national average of  $969 for NFIP policies. Here are NFIP base premiums in SFHAs, like Flood Zone A.

Find Affordable Homeowners Insurance Rates

The NFIP Vs. Private Flood Insurance for Flood Zone A

The NFIP plans only cover floodwater damages when a situation meets FEMA's flood definition. FEMA defines a flood as a partial or complete inundation of two (or more) acres of property. NFIP policies don't cover losses if only one property is inundated by flooding.

The federal government also mandates a strict 30-day waiting period for all NFIP policies. If a flooding disaster occurs before flood coverage starts, FEMA won't insure the policyholder for any damages. Additionally, NFIP plans also impose coverage limits that may not pay for all expenses.

Private flood insurance policies include expanded flood coverage at better rates for homeowners. One study found flood residents could save 20 to 40 percent on their rates when they purchased a policy from a private insurer.

What Do Flood Zones Mean in Terms of Risk?

Flood Zone 

Flood Risk

Flood Source

Is Flood Insurance Required?

B and X (shaded)

Moderate 0.2%-1% annual risk of flooding

Levee-protected areas with shallow flooding.Flood depths 1 ft. and less

Available, but not required.

C and X unshaded

Moderate 0.2% - 1% annual risk of flooding.

Levee-protected locations with low flood risk.

Available, but not required.

A, AE, AR, A1-A30, A99

High. 1% annual risk of a flood. 26% chance during a 30-year mortgage.

Zones A, AE, AR, A99 have undefined sources of flooding. Zones A1-30 have base elevation flooding.

Available and required.

AH

High. 1% annual risk of a flood. 26% chance during a 30-year mortgage.

Ponds and shallow sources of flooding.

Available and required.

AO

High. 1% annual risk of a flood. 26% chance during a 30-year mortgage.

River or stream flood hazard 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.

Available and required.

V, VE, V1-V30

High. 1% annual risk of a flood. 26% chance during a 30-year mortgage.

Coastal flooding and storm surge from hurricanes. 

Available and required.

*The above percentages reflect the flood risks that a community faces, but each homeowner's flood risk depends on the flood's severity, the home's location within flood zones and the house's flood protection.

Private flood insurance policies include expanded flood coverage at better rates for homeowners.

FAQs

How much can I save by buying a private flood insurance plan?

Private flood insurance plans are cheaper than federally backed NFIP plans. Private flood insurance plans also have higher coverage limits than NFIP plans. Most homeowners can save 20% to 40% on their flood insurance rates by getting a plan from a private flood insurer.

What types of flood insurance can I buy for my home?

Some carriers offer a flood endorsement that can be added to a home insurance policy. Most flood insurance policies are sold separately from a home insurance policy.

Should people in low-risk areas buy flood insurance?

According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, homeowners are five times more likely to experience a flood than a fire.  Almost 25% of flood claims come from low to moderate-risk areas. Homeowners can buy NFIP plans in all risk areas, but private insurers may decline to cover high-risk flood zones.

Buy Private Flood Insurance To Protect Your Home

FEMA uses flood zones to evaluate a community's flood risk. Flood Zone A communities have a higher flood risk because of their proximity to ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.

In Zone A, FEMA requires residents who have federally-backed mortgages to buy flood insurance. Although FEMA sells flood insurance through its NFIP, homeowners and businesses can save 20% to 40% when they buy a private flood insurance policy.

If you need better homeowners insurance coverage and a flood policy, SmartFinancial can help you get free insurance quotes. Enter your zip code below and answer a few questions to get started.

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