What is an Elevation Certificate?
An elevation certificate (EC) is needed to document and confirm your home/property’s elevation in relation to the estimated height floodwaters may reach in the event of a major flood (especially in a high-risk area). In addition, ECs are used by the NFIP to provide elevation information necessary to:
- Determine the correct flood insurance premium rate
- Ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances
- Support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or a Letter of Map Amendment based on fill (LOMR-F)
Who Needs an Elevation Certificate?
For certain buildings in a high-risk zone, an elevation certificate may be required if the flood insurance policy is written through a federally regulated insurance lender such as the NFIP. This is because in high-risk areas, there is at least a one in four chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. However, private insurers do not typically require ECs – no matter the flood zone.
ECs are not generally required or used for flood zone rating in moderate- to low-risk areas (Zones B, C and X), undetermined risk areas (Zone D), or certain high-risk areas eligible for other subsidies (e.g., Zones AR and A99).
Need help determining your flood zone and identifying possible lower rates based on recent map changes? If so, Alabama Flood Insurance can easily assist you.
When Do You Need an Elevation Certificate?
A copy of your elevation certificate will more than likely be needed when you purchase a new home in a high-risk area, you are looking for a better premium, or there has been a recent flood zone change in your area.
In high-risk flood zones, NFIP policies cannot be written without the EC for the house or building. Though most private carriers may not require an EC to issue a policy, not every home will qualify for private coverage. Therefore, it is best to have a copy of your EC when you contact Alabama Flood Insurance (or any insurance agent) to purchase flood insurance in a high-risk flood zone area.
Where to Get a Copy of
Your Elevation Certificate?
There are a few ways to obtain a copy of your EC, including:
Sellers of the Home You’re Buying
When purchasing a new home, request that the sellers provide a copy of the EC – especially if the home is in a high-risk zone. If they don’t have an EC, ask if they can provide one before the closing.
Every NFIP participating community has a floodplain manager, which could make your EC already be on file.
Developer or Builder.
In a high-risk area, the developer or builder might have been required to obtain an EC at the time they built the home.
Sometimes the EC is included in a property deed.
Hire a licensed land surveyor, professional engineer, or certified architect.
A land surveyor’s job is to determine the elevation around the building areas on the property and certify whether or not the area in question is under or above the prescribed flood elevation. It is important to note there may be fee when these professionals complete an EC for you. However, before you hire one, ensure they are authorized by law to certify elevation information.
Why and How is Your
Elevation Certificate Used?
If your building is in a high-risk area (Zones A or V), the EC information is used to determine a risk-based premium for a flood insurance policy anywhere in Alabama. For example, the EC shows the location of the building, lowest floor elevation, building characteristics, and flood zone.
Your insurance agent will use the EC to compare your building’s elevation to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). The BFE is the elevation that floodwaters are estimated to have a one percent chance of reaching or exceeding in any given year. Keep in mind, the higher your lowest floor is above the BFE, the lower the risk of flooding. Lower risk typically means lower flood insurance premiums.
Sample Elevation Certificate
Below is a sample elevation certificate and some of the information
Alabama Flood Insurance will need to write your flood insurance policy.