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.
In May of 2017 the City joined a program within the NFIP called the Community Rating System (CRS) which rewards communities for doing more than the minimum floodplain management activities with lower flood insurance rates. The City entered the CRS program at Class 7, which resulted in a 15% discount on all flood insurance policies for the citizens of Ann Arbor. On October 1, 2018 the City improved to a Class 6, resulting in a 20% discount. To maintain or improve this rating the City has committed to continue a higher level of floodplain management and report the results to the CRS program each year.
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
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Biggert Waters) authorized and funded the national mapping program and certain rate increases to ensure the fiscal soundness of the program by transitioning the program from subsidized rates, also known as artificially low rates, to offer full actuarial rates reflective of risk.
Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA) repealed certain parts of previous law – Biggert-Waters, restoring grandfathering, putting limits on certain rate increases and updating the approach to ensuring the fiscal soundness of the fund by applying an annual surcharge to all policyholders.
Please visit FEMA for more information on flood insurance reforms.
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