In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.
Since NFIP’s inception, additional legislation has been enacted to strengthen the program, ensure its fiscal soundness and inform its mapping and insurance rate-setting through expert consultation, reports and studies.
Today, the program is focused on implementing recent legislation by adjusting premium increases, issuing new rates and map updates, supporting mitigation and ensuring special advocacy to connect policyholders with the information they need to better understand the program.
Rates and Refunds
Recent legislation restored grandfathered rates and repealed certain rate increases so refunds may be issued to some policyholders. The law also applied an annual surcharge for all policyholders in the amount of $25 per year for renters and owners of primary residences and $250 per year for owners of non-primary residences and non-residential buildings.
The agency is working closely with its Direct Servicing Agent (DSA) and Write Your Own (WYO) program participating insurance companies that sell and service federal flood insurance so eligible policyholders may receive refunds starting this fall. The agency has also issued guidance so most impacted policyholders won’t be required to pay rates higher than the law now requires during the time the rate tables are being developed. Insurance agents may find this guidance in the WYO Bulletins the agency issues to DSA and WYO companies.
Mapping Flood Hazards
Flood maps inform communities about the local flood risk and help set minimum floodplain standards for communities to build safely and resiliently. They determine the cost of flood insurance, which helps property owners to financially protect themselves against flooding. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium will be. Flood maps are also the basis for flood insurance rates through the National Flood Insurance Program. The process for developing and updating flood maps allows FEMA to work with state, tribal and local governments and communities and property owners at all steps of the process to incorporate the best available data into each community’s flood maps.
Recent updates to the national flood mapping program enable the agency to receive recommendations from the Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC) to assist FEMA in continuing to manage the program using technically credible and scientific practices in identifying flood risk. The Council will also advise on the improved practices used to ensure property owners may be notified of the mapping model that will be used to map their flood risk and help determine their rates. The law also allows 30 days for public comment on the model and issue of any new maps. Property owners may also appeal and receive reimbursement for a successful appeal of certain maps. Communities will not be charged for map reissue due to habitat restoration projects, dam removal, culvert re-design or installation or the installation of fish passages.
FEMA must notify Members of Congress when constituents in their district/state will be affected by a flood mapping update. In accordance with these requirements, FEMA Congressional Affairs Division distributes Notices to Congress each month.
The law allows 30 days for public comment on the model and issue of any new maps. Property owners may also appeal and receive reimbursement for a successful appeal of certain maps. And, communities will not be charged for map reissue due to habitat restoration projects, dam removal, culvert re-design or installation or the installation of fish passages.
Impact to Policyholders
Many changes have been made to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the national flood mapping program over the past few years. FEMA, its Direct Servicing Agent, the Write Your Own (WYO) program participating insurance companies and the insurance agent community are committed to working together to ensure policyholders have the most up-to-date information about the changes and impacts of the new law.
Flood Insurance Advocate
Recent law provided for a Flood Insurance Advocate to help educate property owners about individual flood risks, flood mitigation and measures to reduce rates through effective mitigation, the rate map review and amendment process and changes in the program as a result of any newly enacted laws.
The Flood Insurance Advocate will coordinate outreach and education with local officials and community leaders in areas affected by map amendments and revisions, build regional capacity and aid potential policy holders in obtaining and verifying accurate rate information when purchasing or renewing a policy. The Flood Insurance Advocate will also assist in understanding how to appeal preliminary rate maps and how to implement measures to mitigate evolving flood risks.
The agency is currently formulating a concept of operations for the new Flood Insurance Advocate. Those with current questions about policies, the mapping process or mitigation measures to help lower insurance costs or build stronger may contact:
- NFIP Help Center
General Information: (800) 427-4661
Flood Insurance Reform Act: (866) 395-7496
- FEMA Mapping Services Center
April 1, 2015 Program Changes Fact Sheet