Since 1971, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has required that:
- Residential buildings have their lowest floor (including basement) elevated to or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE)
- Non-residential buildings must be elevated or dry floodproofed (in A Zones only) to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE)
For residential buildings, basements may be permitted below the BFE only if a community obtains an exception under 44 CFR 60.6(b) or (c).
A community must obtain an exception from FEMA prior to permitting the construction of residences with flooproofed basements below the Base Flood Elevation.
Base Flood Elevation
The "Base Flood Elevation" (BFE) is the elevation of surface water resulting from a flood that has a 1% chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year.
The BFE is shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for zones AE, AH, A1-A30, AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/A1- A30, AR/AH, AR/AO, V1-V30 & VE.
How to Get an Exception
The decision to grant or deny the exception is based on a technical review by FEMA as defined in 60.6.
Exceptions for Communities
The basement exception can be applicable to part of a community where the parameters of 60.6c are met. The community official should be contacted to identify partial community boundaries for the basement exception.
An exception would be granted to a community contingent upon the community amending its floodplain management regulations to incorporate the requirements of 60.6(c)(2) in which the basements would have to be:
- Floodproofed to at least one foot above the Base Flood Elevation (two feet if the elevation difference between the Base Flood and 500-year flood is greater than three feet)
- Have the top of the floor of any basement area no lower than five feet below the elevation of the base flood
- Be constructed with adequate fill surrounding the building
- Have the design and method of construction certified by a registered architect or engineer
Although communities can still apply for a basement exception under 44 CFR 60.6(b), FEMA would have to prepare a special environmental clearance and make a determination that there would be severe hardship to the community if the exception were denied.
This document lists the only communities approved for the Residential Basement Floodproofing Premium Discount.
For those who floodproof their basements, insurers may be eligible to receive a discount on on their flood insurance premiums if:
- The building has a basement;
- The building is located in a community where FEMA approved the residential basement floodproofing premium discount; and
- The building is located in zone A1–A30, AE, AR, AR Dual, AO, AH, or A with a BFE.
- The building is in any zone other than a V zone; and
- The building is in any participating NFIP community.
Insurers must submit the following to obtain a premium discount:
- A completed Residential Basement Floodproofing Certificate.
- At least two photographs of the building.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) grandfathers a residential floodproofing premium discount if the building was constructed:
- In a community approved for the residential floodproofing premium discount at the time of construction.
- Before the date the NFIP removed the community’s residential floodproofing premium discount approval.
Rating Design Overview
How will the grandfathering of the Residential Floodproofing Premium Discount be handled under NFIP's Pricing Approach?
For existing policyholders, explore these three scenarios to help understand what will happen when their community’s basement exception has been "withdrawn" or "rescinded."
The community’s risk has not changed however, the community voluntarily withdraws their basement exception status as they no longer wish to participate in the Residential Basement Floodproofing Premium Discount program.
The existing policyholders receiving the floodproofing credit will continue to receive the discount after the community has withdrawn if the building was constructed before the date the community decided to withdraw from the basement exception program as the flood risk within the community has not changed.
Community no longer qualifies to participate in the Basement Exception Program in accordance with the criteria set forth under 44 CFR 60.6(b) or (c) criteria as the flood risk has increased.
Existing policyholders receiving the Residential Basement Floodproofing Credit will no longer receive this credit as of the rescission date and will go on a glide path to full risk rate at the time of policy renewal under FEMA's current rating methodology.
Part of the community no longer qualifies for Basement Exception in accordance with the criteria set forth under 44 CFR 60.6(b) or (c) criteria as the flood risk has increased.
Existing policyholders receiving the Existing and new policyholders in areas with no increase in risk can continue to qualify for the residential floodproofing discount provided supporting documentation is submitted from the community certifying that the structure is in an area that qualifies for basement exception.
Existing policy holders ineligible for residential floodproofing discount due to increased flood risk will go on a glide path to full risk rate at the time of policy renewal under FEMA's current rating methodology following the partial exception effective date.