What’s My Flood Hazard? How Do I Get Insurance?

Ventnor is located on Absecon Island and is surrounded by water on all sides. This gives Ventnor a special status as a bayfront and beachfront community but its not without obvious flood dangers. Ventnor experiences flooding from high tides, precipitation events, and storm surges. Under some circumstances, the combination of the three results in devastating flooding conditions such as those experienced during Superstorm Sandy. Even if your residence is not located on or near to the water, your home may still be at risk for flooding. The entirety of the City is located in a flood zone, and some portions of the City are not protected by hardened shoreline defense structures such as bulkheads. Flood insurance is recommended for all structures in a coastal community.

Damage from flooding is not covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you want insurance protection from flooding for your home, you will need to contact your insurance agent to find out what flood insurance policies are available to you. The maximum amount of coverage for a single-family unit is $250,000, with coverage for contents up to $100,000. Your flood insurance rate is based on a number of factors, but there are a number of steps that you can take to reduce your premium such as elevating your home or installing flood vents.

Your risk of flood hazard is most easily discernible by its location on a Flood Map. Flood maps created by FEMA take various factors into consideration (such as elevation and proximity to the water) in determining what areas are most vulnerable to floods for flood insurance purposes. You can see what flood zone you are in by clicking here: https://msc.fema.gov/portal

Upon clicking the link, type in your address and click the search button. You will be brought to a page that shows your property on a Locator Map and indicates the number and date of the most recent effective flood map. Click the button with the blue magnifying glass that reads “View Map”. This will open a new tab or window with a copy of the most recent effective flood map, and you can discern your home’s flood zone based on the map. If it is within the dark shaded region, your home is within the SFHA and flood insurance is required if you have a federally-backed mortgage. The dark shaded area will also have a corresponding elevation, indicated by “EL 9” or “EL 10”. This indicates the height of the base flood (in feet).

If your home is located in a region marked “Zone B”, your home is located within the 500-Year Floodplain, and you may experience up to one foot of flooding during a 100-year storm. Though you are not required to purchase flood insurance, you may still be at risk for flood damage. If your home is located in “Zone C”, your home is located outside of the 500-Year and the 100-Year floodplain. Note that placement within “Zone C” does not mean that there is no chance of flood damage or that your property will not be at a significant risk for flood damage in the future. Local drainage conditions and sea level rise may create flood conditions or the possibility for flood damage that may not be accounted for by flood maps.

Because the existing flood maps for Ventnor and many other communities are more than three decades old, FEMA has undertaken a new flood insurance study to determine whether there should be changes in flood zones. The preliminary results for this study have been published but have not yet been declared effective. These flood maps are based on the most recent data, and may demonstrate a more accurate indicator of flood risk than the existing maps. Use the web tool here (http://www.region2coastal.com/view-flood-maps-data/what-is-my-bfe-address-lookup-tool/) to determine your property’s new flood zone once the new maps become effective.

Flood insurance can only be purchased through an insurance agent. FloodSmart.gov offers a free tool to help you find an insurance agent here: https://www.floodsmart.gov/

Note that there will be a 30-day waiting period (with few exceptions) for new policies, so don’t wait until the next big storm is forecasted to purchase your flood insurance!