Flood Insurance

Properties on Lake Harding are subject to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) determination of whether they are likely to flood, and therefore they determine if a property is required to have Flood Insurance.

When you need a mortgage to purchase a property on the lake, the lender will obtain a Flood Hazard Determination from FEMA and will notify you if your property has been placed in a Flood Hazard Zone. Even if you are fortunate enough to get your loan closed without being required to purchase this expensive insurance, you may later have the situation arise on a mortgage you have had for some time that is suddenly sold and the new lender will require the flood insurance. Also, even if you have already paid for Flood Insurance; if you have not had your property professionally evaluated, you may be due a pro-rated refund if the evaluation determines your property to be exempt.

It is not necessarily true that your property has ever actually been determined to lie in a flood zone. However, when the Corp of Engineers first surveyed the lake, generally they only surveyed the lots on the main body of water. If your property was not evaluated by the Corp of Engineers they would arbitrarily mark the lot as being in “FLOOD ZONE A”, thus requiring you to purchase Flood Insurance.

In November 2011, FEMA decided to change their Flood Maps for Lee County. They went in and with no evaluation, changed lots on their maps from Flood Zone ‘X’ to ‘A’. This meant lots which had never been considered in a flood zone, were now required to have flood insurance. In July 2012, FEMA did the same thing to lots in Harris County.

There is a process for having FEMA change the flood insurance requirement on your property by obtaining a Flood Elevation Certificate from a Registered Land Surveyor. The Elevation Certificate will determine the base flood elevation of the zone where the home is located. It will also provide the elevation of the rating floor of your home. The Surveyor will go to your property, complete a survey and topography map, and take pictures. They will also obtain the other required data, legal descriptions, and maps at your local courthouse. Once all the information is gathered they will submit to FEMA along with a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) and work with them to insure your request is followed through the proper channels at FEMA.

This process can take several weeks, but once evaluated by FEMA they will send you a document to advise you of their decision. More often than not, it will be a “Removal” Form that will also show they have changed your property to a “FLOOD ZONE X”, thus negating the requirement for Flood Insurance. A copy should be provided to your lender and insurance provider so that any previously purchased insurance can be canceled and a pro-rated refund requested. The fee for this service is extremely minimal in comparison to the thousands of dollars required each year for Flood Insurance.

Being blind sided by a notice that you are required to carry Flood Insurance at a cost of thousands of dollars a year and therefore significantly increasing your monthly escrow payment can seem quite daunting while facing all the other challenges required in securing your property on the lake. But it is actually a relatively easy process if you know where to go for professional assistance.

Also, once you have had FEMA grant you a LOMA and change your lot to a Flood Zone ‘X’ – this rating stays with the property. Thereby making for a good selling point, if you later decide to move. So, with one small investment, you can save yourselves thousands of dollars every year & make your property more desirable to others later on.

One of our advertisers is Barrett-Simpson, Inc., Civil Engineers & Land Surveyors. They have well over 130 years of combined professional experience. Tim Simpson can be reached at: tsimpson@barrett-simpson.com. They may also be reached at their offices in Opelika or Phenix City or contacted by phone at one of the numbers listed below.

Phenix City: 706 12th Street 334-297-2423
Opelika: 223 South 9th Street 334-745-7026

Toll Free: 800-489-4257http://www.barrett-simpson.com/