Homeowner insurance policies do not cover property damage, loss, or clean up costs resulting from flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the sole provider of policies to repair damage to buildings (structures) and to compensate owners and renters for loss of contents (personal property) caused by floods. It's important to know that if you have a federally backed mortgage on a home located in a high-risk area, federal law requires you to purchase flood insurance. For voluntary policies, there is a 30-day waiting period from the time a new insurance policy is purchased to when it actually goes into effect.
In order to make flood insurance available to residents, towns and cities must adopt and enforce a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance. Buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP building standards suffer much less damage than those not built to such standards, and can be insured at lower rates.
Learn more about flooding issues and your flood risk at Floodsmart.gov and through the Flood Risk Information System (FRIS) and NC Floodplain Mapping Program. Helpful tips on how to save money on flood insurance policies can be found on the Mapping Program’s fact sheet, “Saving Money in the Wake of Changing Flood Maps: A Quick Reference for Flood Insurance Policy Holders.” Although a property may lie in the floodplain, its structure may be elevated above the floodplain, which may qualify the property for reduced flood insurance rates. In this case, a professional land surveyor should be hired to complete an elevation certificate for the homeowner to submit to their insurance company. For years, the Town has required finished floor elevation to be at least two feet above the Base Flood Elevation, which may help owners reduce their rates.
An Elevation Certificate is used to determine flood insurance rates for buildings built after the publication of the Flood Insurance Rate Map. Many areas of Town have not been rated, and may require an Elevation Certificate. Floodproofing a structure can be used as an alternative to elevating it above the Base Flood Elevation, but requires a Floodproofing Certificate.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program and works with state and community partners to create flood hazard maps. If you believe floodzone locations or data are in error, you may request an amendment to or revision of the Flood Insurance Rate Map by applying for a Letter of Map Change (LOMA, LOMR, etc.). Forms are on FEMA's website. Conditional Letters of Map Change submitted to FEMA must comply with the Endangered Species Act. See FEMA Memo and links.
Floodplain maps for the Town of Chapel Hill have been posted online. To view paper floodplain maps for Chapel Hill, please visit the Stormwater Management Program office at 208 N. Columbia Street. We will be happy to review the area of interest to you. Town staff cannot make an official flood determination for a property, but can help property owners and real estate agents see where properties and the floodplain intersect. Maps are estimates, and only a professional elevation survey can confirm the property’s risk.