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Coastal Resources for Real Estate, Insurance & Lending Industry Professionals

This page discusses the impacts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) 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, which is described below. This page also provides useful information regarding the ongoing coastal analysis and mappign effort.

Governor Affairs Representative Jeane Heisler speaks to insurance agents and brokers
Lincroft, N.J., Feb. 28, 2013 -- At the Insurance Industry Roundtable, Governor Affairs Representative Jeanne Heisler with Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New Jersey discusses ways to improve communication efforts between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), insurance companies and Hurricane Sandy disaster survivors.

As a result of new FIRMs and FISs being created, 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.

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 homepage. 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 FIS reports are the result of a collaborative effort between and among:

    • FEMA

    • 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.

  • The FloodSmart webpages provide basic information on coastal flooding, flood insurance, flood mapping and other coastal hazards.

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

    • The Base Flood Elevation for their property has changed

  • Fact sheets that insurance industry professionals will find useful are accessible through the FloodSmart website and through other links provided on the Coastal Flood Risk Resources page.

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.

  • Fact sheets that lending industry professionals will find useful are accessible through the FloodSmart website and through other links provided on the Coastal Flood Risks Resources page.

  • 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.

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Last Updated: 
04/16/2018 - 15:48