How To Find Out If You Live In A Flood Zone

Your home’s proximity to a flooding source can affect whether you need to buy flood insurance and how much it might cost.

Updated December 20, 2022 | Reading time: 3 minutes

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A single inch of floodwater can mean tremendous damage for your home. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that just 1 inch of floodwater can lead to more than $25,000 in damage.[1]

To protect your home, you must first determine if you live in a flood zone and then purchase the necessary insurance. Let’s take a closer look at how to determine if you live in a flood zone, the different flood zone types, and how to determine if flood insurance is right for you.

How do you know if you’re in a flood zone?

To find out if you live in a flood zone, check out the FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC), produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). You can use the MSC to view your official flood map, access flood hazard products, and take advantage of several tools to better understand your flood risk.

Important Information: What 1% means to your flood risk

A flood zone is defined as an area that has a 1% or greater chance of experiencing a flood in any given year. Moderate flood hazard areas have a 2% annual chance.

How to read the FEMA flood map

When reading a FEMA flood map, you need to know four different types of FEMA flood zones so you can determine how at risk your home is for flooding.[2]

Moderate-to-low-risk areas

If you live in a moderate-to-low-risk area and your community participates in the NFIP, then all property owners and renters in that zone have the option to purchase flood insurance. Relevant zones include B and X (shaded) and C and X (unshaded).

High-risk areas

Mandatory flood insurance is actually a requirement for property owners in the following high-risk zones: A, AE, A1-30, AH, AO, AR, and A99.

High-risk ­coastal areas

High-risk flood zones are separated into coastal and noncoastal zones. Coastal zones that have mandatory flood insurance requirements include V, VE, and V1-30.

Undetermined risk areas

Zone D is considered to be a location that has possible flood hazards, but those hazards are undetermined. No flood hazard analysis has been conducted in those areas. Flood insurance is optional, and rates represent the uncertainty of flood risk.

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Do you need flood insurance?

While no homeowner wants to add yet another monthly expense into their budget, you may find that because of your home’s location, you need flood insurance to protect it.

Remember that flood insurance must be purchased as a separate policy and that your homeowners insurance policy won’t cover flood damage. Your flood insurance policy, however, can cover both your home and its contents. You can also choose a policy that covers one or the other.

If you’re unsure whether you need flood insurance, start by looking at the FEMA flood map. If you aren’t in an area where coverage is required, you can consider your risk level and decide if this type of insurance policy is right for you.

Read More: Where to Buy Flood Insurance

Flood insurance FAQs

  • Why do flood zones matter?

    Technically, any home can be at risk for some flood damage, but it’s important to understand whether your home is located in a low-risk, moderate-risk, or high-risk flood area. A flood zone can help you identify how at risk your home is for damage and can determine whether you’re required to have a flood insurance policy. 

    Considering 1 inch of floodwater can cause more than $25,000 worth of damage, understanding your risk can help you determine if you need flood insurance, even when it isn’t a requirement.

  • How much does flood insurance cost?

    A flood insurance policy costs about $700 a year on average. However, the cost can vary greatly depending on your flood zone, the type of coverage, your deductible, and the design, age, and location of your home.

  • Does being in a flood zone affect a home’s price?

    The price of a home isn’t necessarily affected by being in a flood zone. A Stanford University-led study actually found that almost 4 million U.S. homes residing in floodplains are overvalued by a collective $44 billion. That’s an average of more than $11,526.

  • What is the NFIP?

    The NFIP is managed by FEMA and makes it possible for NFIP Direct and more than 50 private insurance companies to offer flood insurance to homeowners with property in the 23,000 participating NFIP communities. If you take out a mortgage (from a private lender or a government-backed lender) and live in a flood zone, you’re required to have flood insurance. 

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  1. FEMA. "National Flood Insurance Program." Accessed December 16, 2022
  2. FEMA. "How to Read a Flood Map." Accessed December 16, 2022
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarco

During college, Jacqueline DeMarco interned at a retirement plan advisory firm and was tasked with creating a presentation on the importance of financial wellness. During her research into how money can affect our health, relationships and career, Jacqueline realized just how important financial education is. Jacqueline is a contributor for Insurify and has worked with more than a dozen financial brands, including LendingTree, Capital One, Credit Karma, Fundera, Chime, Bankrate, Student Loan Hero, ValuePenguin, SoFi, and Northwestern Mutual, providing thoughtful content to give readers insight into complex topics that they likely didn’t learn in school.