All homes on the Outer Banks are designated as being in some type of flood zone. Therefore it is important to understand the Outer Banks flood maps and flood zones when searching the MLS.The flood zones are based on FEMA’s flood mapping program where land is categorized in terms of risk of flooding from storm surge or wave action. The maps used for flood insurance ratings are called FIRMS. Everyone lives in a flood zone it’s just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate or high risk area determined by FEMA.
- X Zone
- Area of moderate risk. With most lenders, flood insurance is not required as a condition of the loan if the property is not in a Standard Flood Hazard Area. However, it is advisable to have it. Anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods.
- AE Zone
- Special flood hazard area SFHA. Structures located in this zone will require flood insurance. There is a 26% chance of flooding in this zone over the timespan of a 30 year mortgage. To reduce risk and your premium it is advisable to raise your building above Base Flood Elevation.
- VE Zone
- Coastal High Hazard Area CHHA. High risk areas along the coastline where storms drive waves at heights of 3 feet or more. Base flood elevations are shown at selected intervals within these zones.
- COBRA Zone
- If you wish to purchase a home in the COBRA zone your lender may require that you carry private flood insurance. FEMA does not offer flood insurance for COBRA designated areas and therefore these properties can’t get federally backed insurance. Private insurance companies can provide a policy for you. However, private insurance can be pricey depending on the flood zone and base flood elevation of the home. COBRA zoned homes are found in the Carova area of the Outer Banks.
Understanding Base Flood Elevation (BFE)
Base Flood Elevation is the anticipated rising elevation of surface water resulting from a base flood. How far the base level falls below or above the ground floor of a home is a determining factor in your flood insurance rate.
Flood changes and Grandfathering
New flood maps have been issued by FEMA and by 2018 the maps will be available for approximately 75% of all coastal areas. The updated Outer Banks flood maps and flood zones have been calculated.
What this means: Insurance costs may rise to reflect flood risk with the new mapping program results. If your insurance flood risk changes from a moderate or low risk to a high risk you may qualify for a Preferred Rate Policy Extension for two years with NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) or you may qualify for grandfathering. Grandfathering will allow policyholders who have homes that were built in compliance with the flood map that was in effect at the time of construction to possibly be able to keep that base flood elevation to calculate rates.