Photo Credit: "Edgewater development" by Hisland7 - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
Photo Credit: “Edgewater development” by Hisland7 – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Elevation plays a critical role in determining flood insurance rates. A couple of feet, a few documentation errors or significant omissions can make a considerable difference in the amount property owners pay for coverage or measures implemented to mitigate flood damage.

In Bergen County, New Jersey, FEMA is in the midst of updating the area’s flood hazard maps. Earlier this season, FEMA Region II Mitigation Liaison Andrew Martin visited Little Ferry, NJ, a Bergen County borough, to discuss why and how elevation certificates matter. Here are a few noteworthy takeaways reported in the Little Ferry Local:

“Elevation Certificates document a building’s adjacent grade elevations, the elevation of the lowest floor, lowest elevation of any utilities associated with a structure,” said Martin. “Elevation Certificates also document the BFE [Base Flood Elevation] for a structure per the current effective FEMA Flood Insurance Study and Flood Insurance Rate Map. Communities require that all new and substantially improved construction in the floodplain meet certain standards relative to the BFE. New or substantially improved residential structures must have their lowest floor at above the BFE and new or substantially improved non-residential structures must be either elevated or flood-proofed to the BFE plus one foot.”

Martin added elevation certificates are used to rate flood insurance policy premiums accurately. Rates are based on the lowest floor compared to the flood elevation.

“The higher the lowest floor is relative to the BFE, the lower the cost of the premium,” he said. “Conversely, the lower the lowest floor of a building is relative to the BFE, the higher the premium cost.”

Generally, in high-risk zones, the higher above the BFE a building is located, the lower the insurance premium will be for that property, according to a fact sheet from FEMA. The Elevation Certificate provides the documentation necessary to make that determination.

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Contact AFSI for a complimentary review of your existing commercial property elevation certificates or to obtain a no obligation estimate for new elevation certificates. Our detailed review studies whether errors or omissions have resulted in improperly rated policies. Over 95 percent of the elevation certificates reviewed by AFSI have errors that require surveyor corrections. By uncovering errors and shooting new elevation certificates, AFSI saves clients thousands of dollars on flood insurance premiums and creates millions of dollars in increased real estate value. For more information, read this case study to learn how AFSI worked with a national risk management broker to capture more than $36,000 in premium savings for a commercial property owner.

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