Elevation Certificates & Letter of Map Amendments
Elevation Certificates are forms published by FEMA (FEMA Form 81-31) that must be completed and certified with specific elevation and location reporting data. They are required by insurance companies to rate flood insurance policy premiums. They are also required by building inspectors when building within a flood hazard area. The scope of service for completing an Elevation Certificate can vary greatly according to the flood zone that that property is located in and the extent of elevation surveying that may be necessary. Our Elevation Certificates are completed and sent in both written format and are emailed in PDF format for expedited handling by insurance and lending institutions.
Sometimes it is discovered that homes or buildings have been mapped within flood hazard areas when in fact they are not. This requires flood insurance according to FDIC requirements but a Letter of Map Amendment, also referred to as a "LOMA" application can be used to remove a specific structure or parcel of land from a mapped flood hazard area. Some structures in zone AE are eligible for eLOMA automated filing which can be processed in days instead of the customary several weeks. Once a LOMA has been issued, the mandatory requirement for flood insurance is dropped by the lender according to FDIC regulations.
The process for achieving a Letter of Map Amendment approval can vary greatly due to differences in flood zones, available elevation data, and type of structure. Some homes and structures may be eligible without going to great expense, while some may require detailed cross section surveys and hydrologic engineering studies. We realize that your effort is intended to save money on flood insurance premiums and will present the client with various options for each circumstances and associates fees. The typical Letter of Map Amendment application takes two to three months to process once completed. Chastain & Associates, P.C. typically files the request on the applicant's behalf so that any technical questions or requests come to us. This allows for more efficient and expeditious handling and keeps the client from being the middle man. Some homes or structures may qualify for the eLOMA process which is an electronic filing available only in zone "AE".
Chastain & Associates, P.C. has performed many elevation certificates, LOMA applications, and has even worked directly with FEMA and the state Floodplain Management office on regulatory and corrective action projects.
Everything relates to and is dependent upon which flood zone the property is located in:
Zone "A": Flood prone area, but no Base Flood Elevations determined by FEMA. (Zone "A" is an estimated approximation and can be larger than actual flood plain)
Zone "AE": Flood prone area, Base Flood Elevations determined by FEMA. (Base Flood Elevations or "BFE" can only be determined by detailed engineering study)
Zone "X": Areas outside of the 100 year (1% annual chance) flood plain.
In our region, virtually all properties will fall in to one of four distinct scenarios:
- Scenario 1
- Part of the property is in Zone "A" or "AE", house is in Zone "X". Usually a simple elevation certificate can demonstrate that the house is in Zone "X" and the flood insurance requirement is waived. A Base Flood Elevation is not important. Some lenders may still require a LOMA just to "be on the safe side", though this is largely unnecessary.
- Scenario 2
- House in Zone "A" but outside actual flood plain. Here the homeowner is a victim of exaggerated flood zone lines and has two options, to pay flood insurance at high risk rate class or pursue a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA).
- Scenario 3
- House in Zone "A" and inside the actual flood plain. Flood insurance will be required, the only thing to be determined is the premium amount. Although an Elevation Certificate will be required, the premium class will be highest risk without a valid BFE. An option is to obtain a private study to determine the BFE. Depending on the probable elevation relevance to the flood plain, the homeowner may save money by obtaining a private study.
- Scenario 4
- House in Zone "AE". Flood insurance will be required, and the Elevation Certificate must relate the structure to the published BFE. Flood insurance rates will be partly based on the elevation of the structures relevant to the BFE.
Chastain & Associates, P.C. has performed many Elevation Certificates and Letters of Map Amendment (or "LOMA") requests. We are capable of performing and coordinating all related services. The fee for these services depends on the location of the property and the flood zone classification assigned by FEMA. We can determine this usually with only the street address. If you need or think that you may need an Elevation Certificate or Letter of Map Amendment, contact us today for a no obligation fee proposal. Click here to learn more about Flood Zone Determination services.