If you live in a flood zone and have a mortgage, you’ll need flood insurance. If you need flood insurance, you need an elevation certificate. The certificate lets insurance companies know what type of flood insurance you need.
What is the Elevation Certificate?
The elevation certificate lets insurance companies know how likely your property is to experience a flood. The more likely you are to have a flood, the higher your flood insurance premiums may be. The certificate helps ensure that you have accurate premiums, which is important since flood insurance premiums can be high.
The National Flood Insurance Program issues the certificate. Your certificate includes the following information:
- The home’s location
- The designated flood zone of the area
- Information about the building itself
- The elevation of the lowest floor (the floor at greatest risk of flooding)
Out of all of the information on the certificate, the lowest floor elevation is the most important. The insurance company will compare it to the Base Flood Elevation for your area. This is where there is a 1% chance of flooding in your areas. If your lowest elevation is at or below the BFE, then you have a higher risk of flood damage and an insurance claim.
Does Everyone Need an Elevation Certificate?
The elevation certificate isn’t a requirement, but it can certainly help you, especially if you are in a flood zone. Insurance companies use the certificate to determine your premiums. Without it, they may assume the worst and charge you the highest premiums. If, in fact, your lowest elevation isn’t as low as the BFE, you may be able to secure lower premiums.
Obtaining the Elevation Certificate?
So how do you get the elevation certificate? Use one of the following ways:
- Ask the seller – Your seller may have the Flood Elevation Certificate in his or her records. You don’t have to order your own certificate as it remains with the property.
- Ask the builder – If you build a new home, ask if they had to get an elevation certificate as a part of the building process
- Your closing documents – Your elevation certificate may be included with your closing documents, such as your mortgage deed
If you can’t secure the certificate from one of these options, you may have to order your own. In order to do this, you need a professional surveyor. The process can cost as much as $500 – $600. You can call around to get a quote from different surveyors to compare prices.
The elevation certificate is an important document, especially if you have high flood insurance premiums. It may help you get lower premiums or at the very least, know the risks of your property flooding. It’s important to know the cost of flood insurance for your area before buying a home as flood insurance can get expensive, especially in high-risk areas.