What is an elevation certificate?
An elevation certificate is a document prepared by a qualified engineer / surveyor which provides information on:
- elevation of a building relative to mean high tide
- building type
- flood map location
- additional information used to determine the proper flood insurance premium rates for a property
An elevation certificate measures the difference in elevation between your home and the base flood elevation of your area. It is now being required to rate certain post-FIRM buildings properly: buildings constructed after the publication of the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) in a particular community, in certain high risk zones including: A1-A30, AE, AH, A (with BFE), VE, V1-V30, V (with BFE), AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/A1-A30, AR/AH, and AR/AO. However, an elevation certificate is generally not required to buy flood coverage for pre-FIRM buildings (roughly pre-1970 in this area) except to see if the cost could be lower. For some homeowners, the certificate may save significant flood insurance premiums long-term.
What are the requirements?
The elevation certificate must be signed and sealed by a land surveyor, engineer or architect authorized by law to certify such information. Most elevation certificates are prepared by surveyors licensed by the state in which the subject property is located.
How do I get an Elevation Certificate?
There are several local qualified surveyors / engineers here on the South Shore who can create flood certificates for you. The process is fairly direct: they dispatch a survey team whose first job is to locate a certified elevation marker near the property. Once a good benchmark is established, they measure the elevation of the land adjacent to the property, including notes on what may be fill. Once the lowest and highest adjacent grade are determined, they measure floor heights, note location of mechanical systems (such as in the basement), floor elevations, and so forth. The National Flood insurance Program (NFIP) has its own set of metrics to distinguish walk-out basements, piles, flood openings, and other characteristics.
When the surveyors return to their office, the surveyed property is overlaid onto the appropriate flood maps. Properties in V-zones usually require special underwriting review than A-zone or low risk zone properties. V-zones designate "velocity" of wave action and location data is often more complicated.
How much does an Elevation Certificate cost?
An elevation certificate costs from $600 to 1200, depending on location. This may depend on proximity to a NFIP approved benchmark, the flood zone (Zone V generally involves more time in research), and complexity of the property. What you're paying for is the professional's time to make measurements in a format acceptable to the National Flood Insurance Program.
Here's why you should get one now:
The NFIP is trying to get to true risk-based rates as quickly as possible. Some homeowners have been required to get a flood elevation certificate if located in A or V zones. Without the certificate for A or V zones, the rates will go up based on worst case scenario rates. The NFIP uses a better set of rates when the elevation certificate is supplied.
Getting the elevation certificate is advised for anyone located in an A or V zone. This way you know where you stand so you may take charge of the cost of your flood insurance. If you find your property is rated below base flood elevation, there may be ways to mitigate this. Obtaining the elevation certificate is the starting point to evaluate what measures may be taken to reduce your flood insurance premium.
For questions on your policy and whether or not you need an elevation certificate, click below, call 800-649-3252 or drop us an email; one of our experts here at Gordon Insurance will get right back to you. Get a coastal insurance ebook here.