Editor's Note: Every time a hurricane threatens Florida, this webpage sees an uptick in traffic, however this page is about FEMA Flood Zones, NOT Hurricane Evacuation Zones. Information about Florida Hurricane Evacuation Zones can be found at the Florida Division of Emergency website.
There are two facts that most people do not know. First, flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States; even properties not near water can be susceptible to flooding. Second, losses due to floods are not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) puts out “flood maps” that show which areas in Florida tend to be most prone to flooding. I often hear people ask, “is the property in a flood zone?” and usually people describing homes in low-risk areas will say “no, it’s not in a flood zone.” Well, the correct answer is that every property is in a flood zone. It’s just a matter of whether it is in a low, moderate or high-risk flood zone.
Your real estate agent might be able to tell you which flood zone the property you are looking at is in. But it is your insurance agent who will use a Flood Insurance Rate Map or FIRM, to ultimately determine your flood risk. Be aware that federal law requires you to purchase flood insurance if you have a federally backed mortgage and reside in a high-risk area.
Florida Flood Zones Explained
Here is a break-down of the various flood zones in which you may find a property located.
Moderate to Low Risk Areas
(Flood insurance is not required, but recommended)
Zones B, C, and X
These are flood zones with a less than 1% chance of flooding each year.
High Risk Areas
(Flood Insurance is Mandatory)
Zones A, AE, A1-A30, AH, AO
These areas have a 1% chance of annual flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over 30 years.
This is a flood zone with an increased temporary risk due to the construction or restoration of a levee or a dam.
Areas with a 1% chance of annual flooding that will be protected by a levee or dam where construction has reached specified legal requirements.
High Risk – Coastal Areas
(Flood Insurance is Mandatory)
Zone V, VE, V1-V30
Coastal Areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding annually and subject to the additional hazard of storm waves. Also has a 26% chance of flooding over 30 years.
Undetermined Risk Areas
Possible but undetermined flood hazards.
Everyone, no matter where in Florida they live should carry flood insurance available through the National Flood Insurance Program. It is relatively inexpensive, especially if your home is in a low-risk flood zone. A single-family home is limited to $250,000 coverage for structural damage and $100,000 for contents. I have those amounts of coverage on my home in a low-risk flood zone and my premium is just over $300 per year. For less than a dollar a day, I can sleep easy at night when the rain from the latest tropical system is pouring down. It’s a no-brainer.
For more information on flood zones, flood maps, and flood insurance contact your insurance agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov