The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is conducting an in-depth, large-scale series of studies to re-examine flood hazards and related risks in the coastal communities. This will result in new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and associated Flood Insurance Studies (FISs) that will reflect up-to-date coastal flood hazard information.
As a result, property owners throughout the U.S. will have up-to-date, reliable and internet-accessible information about their flood risk. Some residents and business owners will learn that their flood risk is designated as higher—or lower—than on the previous FIRM.
As a real estate, insurance, or mortgage lending professional, your clients rely on you to inform them of any factors that may affect their property, such as the flood zone in which the property is currently located as well as any pending changes to that zone.
This page provides useful information regarding the ongoing coastal analysis and mapping effort:
What You and Your Clients Should Know
The new FIRMs will provide more up-to-date and accurate digital flood hazard information in coastal areas and are a vital resource for insurance, lending, and real estate industry professionals who serve communities along the U.S. coastlines. For some mapped areas, the risk may be higher than some homeowners or business owners thought; for other mapped areas, the risk may be lower.
To find out the progress of your community’s coastal mapping project, please visit the Risk MAP Progress Website available from the Risk MAP webpage. This website offers an interactive map that allows users to zoom in, locate their community, and click to learn about the project status (i.e. time frame for their preliminary and effective maps). A browser plug-in may be required to use this tool. For additional information on the flood risk study process, refer to the Coastal Flood Risk Study Process page.
As the coastal engineering analyses are completed, each jurisdiction hosts a formal meeting and/or open house where FEMA and their Federal, State, and regional partners present the new versions of the digital FIRMs to community officials and the general public.
The coastal engineering analyses and resulting FIRMs and FISs reports are the result of a collaborative effort between and among:
Several Federal, State and regional partners
County and local governments
Technical experts from the public and private sectors
To learn more about on-going studies, contact local community officials to understand where risks have changed over time.
FloodSmart has information for insurance agents interested in selling insurance, including Tips for Talking to Prospects and other information and tutorials that are appropriate for real estate professionals and mortgage bankers.
How You and Your Clients Should Use the New FIRM and FIS
For Real Estate Industry Professionals
Home sellers and their agents should always tell a prospective buyer if the property is now, or will be, shown in an SFHA on the new FIRM. Home buyers, renters, business owners, and their agents need to be aware of any upcoming changes in flood risk status and the flood insurance requirements associated with a property.
To determine the flood risk to a property, real estate agents and companies can locate the property on the preliminary or final effective version of the appropriate FIRM panel. Here is a tutorial on how to read a FIRM.
Paper copies of the preliminary and effective FIRM panels are or will be available at the Community Map Repository in each jurisdiction. You can also gain copies of the effective FIRM panels online via FEMA’s Map Service Center website.
For Insurance Industry Professionals
Flood insurance requirements will change for some clients as the new FIRMs become effective. Insurance agents and others should be prepared to discuss options with their clients, based on whether:
Their clients already have flood insurance policies;
The new FIRMs show their property in a high-risk SFHA, a moderate-risk area, or a low-risk area;
The new zone designation for the property is the same as the old zone designation; and
The Base Flood Elevation for their property has changed.
For Lending Industry Professionals
Lenders should notify borrowers about the flood zone information shown on the previously effective FIRMs, as well as make them aware of potential upcoming changes in flood risk status as reflected on newly issued preliminary versions of the updated FIRMs. Find the status of coastal flood map studies in your area.
Lenders should inform loan applicants of any flood insurance requirements currently associated with the property.
Both the lenders and the borrowers need to be aware of when the FIRMs will become final, or “effective”, and the impacts this will have on the flood insurance requirements for the property.
With the assistance of knowledgeable lending professionals, both the lending institution and borrower can be assured that the mortgaged property is properly insured against flooding.
For More Information
View FEMA's Flood Hazard Mapping Information for Insurance Professionals & Lenders page.
Access the final FIRM at your community’s local map repository and online through FEMA’s Map Service Center.
Contact a Map Specialist at the FEMA Map Information eXchange toll free, at 1-877-336-2627 or by email at FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com.
Learn about what resources, grants, and other information is available when Rebuilding After a Coastal Storm.
Find answers to many of your questions by visiting our Coastal Frequently Asked Questions page.
The Coastal Flood Risk Resources page, organized by resources type, contains links to useful fact sheets, flyers, brochures, and other helpful documents produced by FEMA, other Federal agencies, State agencies, Water Management Districts, and other entities.
Subscribe to the Coastal Flood Risks email updates.