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FEMA Common FAQ

Yes, providing that, if confined to your property, the flood water covers at least two acres. A general condition of flood also exists if two properties are affected, one of which is yours.   Don't see your question?   Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions. 

Check the  FEMA disaster declarations  page for the latest information. Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

Most likely, yes. It's a good idea to buy flood insurance even if you live in a moderate-to-low risk area. About 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas with low-to-moderate flood risk. You may qualify for the Preferred Risk Policy (a lower-cost flood insurance policy) that provides contents coverage beginning at $39 per year and building plus contents coverage beginning at $119 a year.

Flooding occurs in moderate-to-low risk areas as well as in high-risk areas. Poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, snowmelt, and broken water mains can all result in flood. Properties on a hillside can be damaged by mudflow, a covered peril under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. For these reasons, flood insurance is required by law for buildings in high-risk flood areas as a condition of receiving a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.   Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

The FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC) is the official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Use the MSC to find your official flood map, access a range of other flood hazard products, and take advantage of tools for better understanding flood risk.

You can pay your insurance premium with a credit card (American Express, Diners Club, Discover Card, Master Card or Visa) or with cash, check or money order. Your premium may be paid through an escrow account established by your mortgage lender, at your lender's discretion.   If your lender requires you to buy flood insurance and escrows for other types of insurance or taxes, they are required to also escrow flood insurance premium payments. Your payment for coverage is due to your agent with your application. For details, ask your insurance agent or lender. Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

Our data comes from maps that are available in a digital format. Most communities are mapped; however yours may not be digitally available at this time. FEMA is currently facilitating a national effort to update and digitize all maps.  Learn more about flood hazard mapping Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

There is no "end date" specified for the extended eligibility based on map change effective dates. Beginning January 1, 2011, each policy on a building that is newly mapped into the SFHA by a map change effective October 1, 2008, or later is entitled to two additional years of coverage under the PRP.   Don't see your question?  Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

You may visit our  National Flood Hazard Layer  webpage to learn more about our available GIS data and services.

Before 2003, more than 70 percent of the nation's flood maps were at least 10 years old. Those maps were developed using what is now outdated technology, and more importantly, many no longer accurately reflect the current flood hazards. Congress passed a law and appropriated funds in 2003 directing FEMA to create the five-year Flood Map Modernization program, which used more current data and technology to update the maps. Consequently, many property owners are finding their buildings have been accurately mapped into higher risk areas. Aging flood control infrastructure, including levees, dams, and other structures, have also resulted in large numbers of properties being newly mapped into SFHAs, where they are required by lenders to purchase flood insurance.

It's possible that you qualify for a discount based on your community's participation and status in the Community Rating System program. For more information, visit CRS Ratings and You. Don't see your question?   Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.  

If you live in a community that participates in the NFIP, you can get flood insurance to cover the contents of your home or business.   Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

Yes. Homes and businesses may qualify for the low-cost Preferred Risk Policy , with premiums starting as low as $129 for a home and its contents and $643 for a commercial building and its contents.*   *$129 residential annual premium provides $20,000 building and $8,000 contents coverage. $643 commercial annual premium provides $50,000 building and $50,000 contents coverage.   Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

A digital copy of the  NFIP Flood Insurance Manual  is online.  FEMA no longer distributes this publication in paper or CD formats.

To find the effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) for your area of interest, you may use the Address Search feature. The Address Search allows you to  search by specific address or location. For more information about flood maps, please see the following page:  Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).

FEMA no longer offers flood hazard mapping products in hard-copy or on disc. All products can be downloaded free-of-charge.

A number of factors are considered when determining your flood insurance premium. These factors include: the amount and type of coverage being purchased, location and flood zone, and the design and age of your structure. For homes in high-risk areas (e.g., Special Flood Hazard Areas or AE, VE Zones) built after the first Flood Insurance Rate Maps were drawn for that community, the elevation of the building in relation to the base flood elevation is also required. For more information, visit Flooding and Flood Risks  or download  Flood Insurance Basics  [PDF 27KB] to learn more.

All policies expire at 12:01 a.m. on the last day of the effective term, but you remain covered for 30 days after the expiration of the policy. Claims for losses that occur in this grace period will be honored, provided that the full renewal premium is paid by the end of the 30-day period. Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) cannot reflect every variation in the physical geography of an area. Therefore, a FIRM occasionally will show a property as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), even though the building may be above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).   However, there is a mechanism for resolving such a situation. A property owner can submit property and elevation materials in support of a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove the property from the SFHA. This process involves the property owner and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Most homeowners insurance does NOT cover damage or losses from flooding. Some damage to your property may have been caused by something other than flooding. Look at your policy and see your homeowners insurance agent for more information about what types of damage are covered by your policy. Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

To determine whether a particular community participates in the  National Flood Insurance Program , you may consult the Community Status Book  for a definitive listing.

Even though flood insurance isn't federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file nearly 25% of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding. When it's available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest. Preferred Risk Policy premiums are the lowest premiums available through the NFIP, offering building and contents coverage for one low price. In fact, residential premiums in moderate- to low-risk areas start as low as $57 per year for Contents Only coverage.*   *$57 annual premium provides $8,000 in contents coverage.   Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

It is essential that you visit with your insurance agent to determine exact costs. However, if you'd like to receive a general idea of how much your premium will cost or find an agent serving your area, fill out the Flood Risk Profile.   Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

Flood insurance covers your home's foundation elements and equipment that's necessary to support the structure (for example: furnace, water heaters, circuit breakers, etc.).   It's important to note that some items in your basement are covered under building coverage (like a furnace, hot water heater and circuit breaker) and others are covered under contents coverage that must be purchased in addition to building coverage (for example, your washer and dryer, or your freezer and the food in it).  

Besides insuring your property, there are things you can do to minimize potential loss to your home and ensure your family's safety.   Develop a Family Plan  (PDF 32KB) Create a Disaster Supply Kit  (PDF 44KB)

Nearly every year since 1851, at least one hurricane has reached the United States. On average there are 6 hurricanes in a season. As all hurricanes weaken to tropical storms and move inland, the threat of torrential rains over large areas intensifies the risks of flooding for inland communities and states. Flooding from hurricanes can occur hundreds of miles from the coast placing communities, which would not normally be affected by the strongest hurricane winds, in great danger. Although any coastal area is at risk, certain cities are particularly vulnerable and may have incurred losses even higher than those incurred when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.  Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

Not necessarily. Federal disaster assistance typically comes in the form of a low interest loan to help cover flood damage, not compensation for your losses. Even then, those loans are only available if the President formally declares a disaster and must be repaid along with any existing mortgage.

No. Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy.

Most of our maps are provided downloadable in an image file (.TIFF or.PNG). Some computers may not automatically recognize which program is needed to view the file. For customers with Windows® operating systems, right-click on the saved file and select Open With. You may then choose Windows Photo Viewer ™ from the list of available programs.

FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are approximately two feet by three feet in size when printed to full-scale. A FIRMette is a full-scale section of a FIRM that you create yourself and is formatted to print on most home/office printers. To learn more about FIRMettes, please see the next question.

To learn when new mapping products are published to the MSC website for you community, you may sign up for an email  subscription service.

You can create a FIRMette of most effective maps in FEMA’s online inventory using the FIRMette Web tool. To create a FIRMette, you must first  find a flood map , and then click the View button associated with that flood map. For detailed instructions on how to create a FIRMette,  try our  online  tutorial. For additional information on  FIRMette Web  and the more advanced FIRMette Desktop application, please see the  Products and Tools Overview  page. 

Only one building and its contents can be insured on each Flood Insurance policy.

If a flood damages your property, you may be required by law to bring your home up to community and/or state floodplain management standards. If you have NFIP insurance, and your home has been declared substantially damaged by your community, ICC coverage is provided to cover up to $30,000 of the cost to elevate, flood proof, demolish, or relocate your property. ICC coverage is in addition to the coverage you receive to repair flood damages; however, the total payout on a policy may not exceed $250,000 for residential buildings and $500,000 for non-residential buildings.

The CBRS is a system of protected coastal areas that includes ocean-front land, the Great Lakes and Other Protected Areas (OPAs).   Coastal barriers serve as important buffers between coastal storms and inland areas, often protecting properties on land from serious flood damage. Also, coastal barriers provide a protective habitat for aquatic plants and animals.   The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 restricted development on the CBRS, in an effort to protect the barrier system and prevent future flood damage. If you live in a CBRS area, you are eligible for federally regulated flood insurance only if your property was built before 1982 and your community participates in the NFIP. Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

Not necessarily. Federal disaster assistance typically comes in the form of a low interest loan to help cover flood damage, not compensation for your losses. Even then, those loans are only available if the president formally declares a disaster and must be repaid along with any existing mortgage. Don't see your question? Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions.

No. Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy.  

No. The two-year PRP eligibility extension is distinct from existing grandfathering rules and does not apply to properties that were already located in SFHAs prior to the map change. Existing grandfathering rules already provide relief to property owners with buildings already in SFHAs that are newly mapped into higher risk flood zones (e.g., from AE to VE) or in areas with higher BFEs.   Don't see your question?   Go to the NFIP’s Answers to Questions. 

For definitions of  Flood Zones , visit the Flood Zones webpage on the FEMA website.

Everyone lives in a flood zone. The fact that a flood hasn't occurred within recorded history does not mean one hasn't happened in the past or that one will not happen in the future. It’s important to note that flood history is only one element used in determining flood risk. More critical determinations are made by evaluating your community’s rainfall and river flow data, topography, wind velocity, tidal surge, flood control measures, building development (existing and planned) and community maps.