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Flood Insurance

The City of Ann Arbor is one of more than 20,000 U.S. communities that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP supports local communities in their efforts to reduce the risk and consequences of serious flooding. In order to participate in the NFIP, a community must agree to adopt and enforce sound floodplain management regulations and ordinances. In exchange for these practices, FEMA makes flood insurance available to homeowners, business owners and renters in these communities.

Who needs flood insurance?

Federal law requires flood insurance policies for properties located in areas at high risk for flooding. If you have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender on a home located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (i.e., within the 100-year floodplain), you must purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is required because most standard homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood damage.

Though flood insurance is not required outside the 100-year floodplain, it is still recommended for properties where there is potential for flooding to occur.

Flood Insurance Changes by FEMA

In July 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12) which calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make a number of changes to the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is run. Some of these changes already have occurred, and others will go into effect October 1, 2013. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable. The changes will mean premium rate increases for most policyholders. Homeowners and business owners are encouraged to learn their flood risk and talk to their insurance agent to determine how their policy will be affected by BW-12.  Contact FEMA for more information at:

Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12)

Understanding Flood Areas

Flooding can happen anywhere, but certain areas are especially prone to serious flooding. To help communities understand their risk, flood maps (Flood Insurance Rate Maps, FIRMs) have been created to show the locations of high-risk and moderate-to-low risk flood areas.

High-risk areas (Special Flood Hazard Area or SFHA)

  • Areas are inside the 1% annual flood-risk floodplain area (100-year floodplain)
  • Over the life of a 30-year mortgage, there is a 26% chance the property will be flooded
  • All homeowners in these areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to buy flood insurance
  • Shown on the flood maps as zones labeled with the letters A or AE

Moderate-to-low risk areas (Non-Special Flood Hazard Area or NSFHA)

  • Risk of being flooded is reduced, but not completely removed
  • Areas are outside the 1% annual flood-risk floodplain areas (100-year floodplain)
  • Flood insurance isn’t required, but it is recommended for all property owners and renters
  • Shown on flood maps as zones labeled with an X or a shaded X



Last Updated August 5, 2013


National Flood Insurance Program logo

Flood Insurance 101 - pdf (FEMA Fact Sheet)

Are you ready for a flood? Check out FEMA's flood preparation site

 Ann Arbor Flood Mitigation Plan (pdf, 2007): a plan to reduce flood risks and damages



Jerry Hancock
Stormwater and Floodplain Programs Coordinator
(734) 794-6430 Ext. 43709


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