Flood Insurance

As New York City moves beyond the Hurricane Sandy recovery process to creating more resilient communities, we want to ensure that residents have information to prepare for future storms. Standard homeowners’ insurance does not include protection against flood damages. However, homes within the 1% annual chance floodplain face at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during the life of a 30-year mortgage. Flood insurance is an important way to protect your home and help you recover from damages caused by flooding from excessive rainfall, tidal flooding, or wind-driven storm surge.

Since federal assistance is not guaranteed in the event of a flood, it is important to purchase flood insurance to help you recover if your property is damaged. In addition, many property owners are required by federal law to purchase and maintain flood insurance if the property is in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on the 2007 Flood Insurance Rate Maps, has a federally backed mortgage, or has received federal disaster assistance. The City is undergoing a remapping process with FEMA, so your property may be required to carry flood insurance in the future. If you are outside of the SFHA today, you may be eligible for lower rates if you obtain flood insurance before the remapping is completed. Additionally, homes mapped into a future SFHA through the ongoing remapping process may be able to carry over a reduced premium rate for flood insurance policies purchased today within lower risk flood zones.

Build It Back provides flood insurance counseling. Please visit our Counseling Page for more information and to learn how to connect with a counselor.

Key Terms

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) – The 100-year floodplain, or an area that has a 1% or greater risk of flooding in any given year. These high risk areas are indicated on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). In these high-risk areas, there is a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

Elevation Certificate — a document that identifies the elevation of your home in relation to the Flood Zone and the Base Flood Elevation established by FEMA. More information is available on Build It Back’s Elevation Certificate Page.

Base Flood Elevation — The computed elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood. Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and on the flood profiles.

The BFE is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or floodproofing of structures. The relationship between the BFE and a structure's elevation determines the flood insurance premium.

Lower Occupied Floor — The floor of the lowest enclosed area, including basements. Does not include any wet floodproofed spaces used solely for parking, access, storage or crawl space.

Flood Zone —  Flood hazard areas identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHA are defined as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The 1-percent annual chance flood is also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the FIRM, and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood. The areas of minimal flood hazard, which are the areas outside the SFHA and higher than the elevation of the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood, are labeled Zone C or Zone X (unshaded).

Mandatory Purchase Requirement – Homes in a SFHA with a federally-backed mortgage are subject to a mandatory purchase requirement and must buy flood insurance.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – The Federal program administered by FEMA that underwrites flood insurance and sets flood insurance premium rates for homeowners, renters and business owners. The NFIP can be reached toll-free at 1-800-427-4661. TDD# 1-800-427-5593.

Small Business Administration (SBA) – Federal agency that provides disaster loans to homeowners, renters and businesses.


Visit the Flood Insurance Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.