New York City’s flood risk is changing. Many more New Yorkers will be considered exposed to flood risk, and, if they have federally-backed mortgages, they will be required to buy flood insurance—just as flood rates are increasing.
FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) delineate areas at high-risk for flooding. FEMA FIRMs are created through an extensive mapping process that take into account topography, and the types and strength of storms that historically have affected the region. Property owners with federally-backed mortgages on buildings identified in the high-risk areas on the FIRMs are required to purchase flood insurance.
In addition, Congressional changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) managed by FEMA will lead to increased flood insurance rates for many flood insurance policyholders.
FEMA’s FIRMs have not been significantly updated since 1983, and the City’s maps are currently being updated by FEMA. In June 2015, New York City filed a technical appeal of the Preliminary FIRMs released in January 2015.
In October 2016, FEMA announced that it agreed with the City’s findings, and that it would work with the City to revise the 2015 Preliminary FIRMs and issue new maps in the coming years that better reflect current flood risk.
Until the new flood maps are issued, flood insurance rates in New York City will continue to be based on the 2007 Effective FIRMs saving coastal households tens of millions of dollars per year.
For those outside of the highest risk areas on those maps, flood insurance will remain less expensive.
Flood risk is real and increasing with the impacts of climate change. The City encourages residents to purchase flood coverage, which is not included in homeowners insurance.
This site will help New Yorker’s understand their flood risk and flood insurance requirements.