My family has lived in our house for many years, and we had a big flood that was called the 100-year flood. We weren't damaged. So, why do I need flood insurance?

The term "100-year flood" is often incorrectly used and can be misleading. It does not mean that only one flood of that size will occur every 100 years. The term is a statement of probability that scientists and engineers use to describe how one flood compares to others that are likely to occur. Today, we use the phrase "1% annual chance flood." What it means is that there is a 1% chance of a flood of that size happening in any year. Over a 100-year period, it has a 63.5% chance of occurring. Even more surprising is that over a 30-year period (typical mortgage period) the 1% annual chance flood has a 26% chance of occurring. This means a home in the mapped flood hazard area is five times more likely to be damaged by flood than to have a major fire!

To answer your question about why you need flood insurance, you would need to look very carefully at what caused the flood and how high the water near your home rose. Because rainfall amounts are different when a storm moves across an area, a "100-year flood" may occur in some places but not others. There are many factors that can add to flooding, including debris in the waterway, small road culverts and bridges, frozen or saturated ground, and others.

If your area had a major storm and your home was not flooded, you may want to check with your community's engineering or planning office. If other areas didn't flood, it may mean that the FIRMs should be revised. You may also want to check to see if your home is eligible for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) which FEMA uses when homeowners submit Elevation Certificates showing that their homes are out of the mapped floodplain. With a LOMA, your lender may choose to not require flood insurance.

Show All Answers

1. What does 100-year flood mean?
2. My home is in a floodplain. Am I at high risk for flooding?
3. If I read a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), what are the different flood hazard zone designations and what do they mean?
4. What are FEMA's requirements for being removed from the 1% annual chance flood hazard area?
5. I have lived here forever and have never been flooded. Why do I need flood insurance?
6. My family has lived in our house for many years, and we had a big flood that was called the 100-year flood. We weren't damaged. So, why do I need flood insurance?
7. My bank said I'm in the floodplain and I have to buy flood insurance. I don't believe it. What can I do?
8. Who can do determinations of floodplain maps?
9. How can I find my community number and/or panel number?
10. Who can prepare an elevation certificate?
11. What elevation is used when rating a structure for a flood insurance policy?
12. What do I need to know if my building is in the floodplain?
13. I bought a house near the river. I had no idea that it floods there: what do I do?
14. How can I be considered to be in a floodplain if I only get water when it floods?
15. Five years ago my neighbor did something I want to do now, why can't I do it?
16. The mean local official says that my property has been substantially damaged, what does that mean?
17. What happens if I move back into my house, even though it has been declared substantially damaged?