Flood Damage >> FEMA Maps

Are lenders required to escrow flood insurance payments? Yes. If a lender, its servicer, or a Federal Agency lender requires the escrow of taxes, insurance premiums, fees, or any other charges for a loan secured by improved residential real estate or mobile homes, it shall also require the escrow of all premiums and FEMA Maps fees for any flood insurance. 

This requirement applies to loans made, increased, extended, or renewed on or after October 1, 1996. Requiring lenders to escrow for flood insurance premiums improves FEMA Maps compliance with flood insurance requirements by ensuring that homeowners located in Special Flood Hazard Areas obtain and maintain flood insurance for the life of the loan. 

What if a borrower disagrees with his or her lender's determination that a property is in a flood zone? If a FEMA Maps lending institution is requiring the insurance to meet mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements, the property owners may not contest the requirement if the lending institution has established the requirements as a part of its own standard lending practices. 

However, if a lending institution is requiring the insurance to meet mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements, the property owner and lender may jointly request that FEMA Maps review the lending institution's determination. This request must be submitted within 45 days of the date the lending institution notified the property owner that a building or manufactured home is in the SFHA and flood insurance is required. 

In response, FEMA MAPS will issue a Letter of Determination Review (LODR). The LODR process should be used as a last resort. Before the FEMA Maps LODR process is engaged, the property owners should contact their lender and provide them with additional documentation to support their position. 

Some lenders reserve the right in their FEMA Maps loan documents to require the purchase of flood insurance regardless of the flood zone. Property owners may not contest the requirement to purchase flood insurance if the lending institution has established the requirement as a part of its own standard lending practice. 

What is the process and outcome of the LODR on the lender's determination? The LODR does not result in an amendment or revision to the NFIP map. It only upholds or FEMA Maps overturns the lender's determination. The LODR remains in effect until the NFIP map panel affecting the subject building or manufactured home is revised. 

The LODR process does not consider the elevation of the structure above the flood level. It considers only the location of the structure relative to the SFHA shown on the effective FIRM. FEMA Maps confirms the location of the structure on the FIRM by examining the data source used by the lender to make the determination. 

A fee must be submitted with all LODR requests. The fee payment may be in the form of a check or money order, in U.S. dollars, made payable to the "National Flood Insurance Program." 39. How many buildings or FEMA Maps locations (and their contents) may be insured on each policy? Only one building and its contents can be insured on a policy. 

However, the Dwelling Form of the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) does provide FEMA Maps coverage for up to 10 percent of the policy amount for appurtenant detached garages. 40. What is the flood insurance policy term? Flood insurance coverage is available for a 1-year term. 41. Is there a minimum coverage requirement for a flood insurance policy? 

No, there is no minimum coverage requirement if FEMA Maps coverage is being purchased voluntarily. However, if coverage is being purchased as the result of a lender requirement(mandatory purchase requirement), the amount of flood insurance required must be at least equal to the lesser of (1) the outstanding principal balance of the loan.

The maximum amount available under the NFIP, or (3) the total insurable value of the property. Some FEMA Maps lenders reserve the right in their loan documents to require the purchase of flood insurance above the amount required by law. If so, they may require the amount of coverage to be as high as the building's replacement cost value. 

Property owners should consult with their insurance agent and FEMA Maps lender to determine the appropriate amount of insurance to purchase. This does not apply to the Group Flood Insurance Policy (GFIP). 42. Can an NFIP policy be rated based on the FIRM that was in effect when the building was constructed, even if a FIRM is revised? Yes. 

To recognize policyholders who built in compliance with the FIRM that was effective when the building was constructed, FEMA Maps the NFIP has "grandfather rules" that allow policies to be rated based on the FIRM that was in effect when the structure was built. Supporting documentation that confirms the flood zone and/or BFE information from the prior FIRM is required to grandfather the rating. 

NFIP "grandfather rules" do not apply to the low-cost Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). The FIRM in effect when the PRP is effective determines eligibility for the PRP. 43. If a building is substantially improved or FEMA Maps damaged, can the rating be grandfathered to a prior FIRM that was in effect when the building was originally constructed? No. 

If a building is substantially improved or damaged, the FIRM in effect at the time of improvement or FEMA Maps damage must be used for rating. 44. When a property's flood zone changes from a non–Special Flood Hazard Zone (SFHA) to an SFHA as a result of a FIRM update, can the property continue to be rated using the PRP? Yes. 

Because flood zone revisions on updated FIRMs have resulted in a financial challenge for many homeowners, FEMA Maps has implemented a measure that provides financial relief by delaying the applicability of the SFHA standard rating for 2 years. Buildings newly mapped into an SFHA by a map effective on or after October 1, 2008, are eligible for the PRP for 2 years beginning on January 1, 2011, or the map change effective date, whichever is later. 

The building must also meet the PRP loss history requirements. At the end of the extended PRP eligibility period, the policy would be renewed as a standard-rated policy, FEMA Maps and may be eligible for grandfathering on a standard-rated policy. 45.Are there grandfather rules to allow policyholders to maintain the current rating despite a map revision that places property in a higher-rated flood zone? Yes. 

To recognize policyholders who have built in compliance with the FIRM and or remained loyal customers of the NFIP by maintaining continuous coverage, FEMA Maps has "grandfather rules." These rules allow such policyholders to benefit in the rating for that building. 

For such buildings, FEMA Maps the insured would have the option of using the current rating criteria for that building or having the premium rate determined by using the BFE and/or flood zone on a previous FIRM that was in effect when the building was originally constructed (for those built in compliance)or when coverage was first obtained (for those with continuous coverage). This leads to cost savings to insured when the new map resulting from a map revision would result in a higher premium rate.

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