Can you get flood insurance without an elevation certificate? Learn more about elevation certificates in this article.

If you live in an area at high risk for floods, one of the most important steps for establishing a base is getting a flood elevation certificate

Floods can wreak havoc and destroy your property. You must get the building insured if your property is in a location that gets frequent floods. Whether for private insurance or National Flood Insurance Program, you must have the flood elevation certificate to qualify.

In most cases, getting flood insurance without an elevation certificate is not possible, especially if you are going for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) established by the government. 

If you have a property in a high-risk flood zone, you may wonder if there are any ways to get flood insurance without an elevation certificate. Can you leave out this task and still protect your property? 

Keep reading as we explore more about getting flood insurance without an elevation certificate. 

1. What Is A Flood Elevation Certificate?

A flood elevation certificate, also known as property elevation certificate, is a document that calculates the risk and possibility of your property getting affected by floods. 

Depending on the flood zone, the exact location, the construction, and other parameters, the elevation certificate defines how likely your property will be damaged in the event of a flood. 

The elevation certificate is integral to calculating the interest or premium you must pay to the insurers to protect your house against flood water. 

If there is more risk of flood water reaching and entering the lowest floor of your house, you will have to pay a higher premium to get insurance. 

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is an association by the government, and NFIP is one of their programs. The elevation certificate is issued by NFIP, which is run by FEMA. 

Information To Be Included In The Elevation Certificate

A few essential points are included in the elevation certificate to ensure that it properly measures the risk of flooding in your area. 

One of the things to be mentioned in the certificate is the location of your property and the flood zone. NFIP has divided different locations into flood zones according to the risk of floods. 

The flood zones are shown in the official flood map as well. The certificate must state the flood zone in which your property is situated. 

The certificate should also mention any distinguishing features of your house, such as a garage, as this can change the risk conditions for the property.

One of the essential determinants of flooding risk is the elevation of the lowest floor. This shows the risk of flood water entering the lowest floor of the building. 

If you have a garage or a basement, the risk increases; similarly, other conditions can increase or decrease the risk of flooding. 

It is compared to the base flood elevation to determine the risk of flooding based on the lowest floor elevation. The base flood elevation of your area is where there is a 1% chance of flooding. 

Suppose your lowest floor elevation is significantly above the base flood elevation. In that case, your property will be considered safer, and you will have to pay less premium on the insurance package. 

2. Can You Get Flood Insurance Without an Elevation Certificate?

Now that you are well aware of the critical information in an elevation certificate, there still must be one question at the back of your mind. Is it possible to get flood insurance without an elevation certificate? 

The short answer is no, and it is not possible to get flood insurance without an elevation certificate, especially if you are getting a public insurance package. 

You will also have to provide the elevation certificate for most private insurance packages. However, some private insurance companies may not require an elevation certificate under certain conditions. 

But it can be complicated for most properties to get flood insurance without a property elevation certificate.

3. Mandatory Requirements For Flood Elevation Certificate

Three conditions make it mandatory to get an elevation certificate for flood insurance. 

You must get an elevation certificate if your property is on a mortgage and the financing has been done through a federally registered and regulated lender. 

FEMA has set up different areas according to the risk of flooding, and these places are known as Special Flood Hazard Areas. You will have to get your certificate if your building is in one of these locations. 

The NFIP is a federally instituted insurance program, so if you are getting public insurance from this program, you cannot get flood insurance without an elevation certificate. 

Some private insurance companies are supported by NFIP, so they, too, are public at their core. You need an elevation certificate to qualify for any of these insurance packages.

4. How To Get A Flood Elevation Certificate For Your Property?

There are two different ways to get a flood elevation certificate. 

4.1. Look for an existing certificate

The first way to get a flood elevation certificate is to look for a pre-existing one from the previous owner. While this is an option that you can consider, it is generally not recommended because any change in the property would require getting a new certificate

This means that the information in existing certificates may no longer be true or relevant. 

You can ask the seller of the building, the construction company, the community manager, or other related parties from whom you bought the property. 

One or more of these parties might have the elevation certificate, so you may be able to get your hands on the previous elevation certificate.

However, the previous certificate might not be useful if you have just bought the building or are getting some work done on it. 

This is because any changes made to the property must be mentioned in the certificate. If you renovate even a small part, especially on the lowest floor, you will have to get a new elevation certificate. 

4.2. Order a new property elevation certificate

Getting a new elevation certificate is the second method and the recommended one. It is not a complicated process, and it will ensure that you are getting the most updated information about your property. 

While it’s not complicated, it is a bit technical and requires a professional entity to work on it. More specifically, a land surveyor that specializes in property elevation certificates, such as Tucker Engineering.

Any authorized professional, such as an engineer, a land surveyor, an architect, or the local community manager, are qualified to carry out the inspection of your home and make an elevation certificate for you. You cannot do it yourself or ask a random person. Authorization of the professional is necessary for an authentic certificate. 

The cost and time for the inspection process and the certificate will vary depending on the property’s size and other factors. In most cases, the surveyor can complete the work in two to three weeks. 

The cost will also vary depending on the scope of the project, so you will have to ask for a personalized quote from your land surveyor. 

4.3. Cost of a flood elevation certificate 

Like other services, the cost of getting a flood elevation certificate will vary depending on the property. The size of the building, the structure, the location, and other factors will weigh in on the exact price you will have to pay to get the certificate.

If you live in a small home such as a one-bedroom house, you can get the flood elevation certificate without much hassle, while if the property for inspection is a commercial brand or a building for a mall, the scope of work will be more, and you will have to pay a heftier price.

Moreover, the features and attributes of your home will also determine the cost of getting a flood elevation certificate. As a general estimate, the cost can start from $200, going up to $1,200 or more for more complex projects. 

The best way to figure out the cost of getting a property elevation certificate is to directly ask for a proposal. Ensure you get a quote or an estimate before you begin the surveying process. 

5. Where Do I Get an Elevation Certificate For Flood Insurance?

You can get an elevation certificate for flood insurance by contacting a land surveyor or an engineer, and requesting a quote for your project. If you are wondering how to get a flood elevation certificate in Alabama, the most reliable option is Tucker Engineering.

The flood elevation certificate is a valuable document brimming with essential information. Even if you can get flood insurance without an elevation certificate, you may lose out on some big benefits, such as protecting your property and having peace of mind.

Several private insurance companies, besides public associations, offer lower premiums in return for proof of elevation certificate. 

Moreover, if you want to get the federal insurance package under NFIP, there is no option for flood insurance without an elevation certificate. You will have to get it with all the updated information in the document. 

Also, the information calculated in the elevation certificate is highly essential. It can also benefit you if you want private insurance, as it provides solid proof. You may be able to save a fortune in insurance packages by providing an elevation certificate which can fetch you lower premium rates. 

If your property is located in an area that has been declared high-risk or if you live in such an area, you must obtain an elevation certificate for the building. Getting flood insurance without an elevation certificate, especially if your property is located in a high-risk zone, is almost always impossible.

Getting flood insurance without an elevation certificate can be a difficult task as you won’t have certified proof showing the level of risk for your property. 

You may be eligible for low premium rates of insurance, but without it, you may not be able to prove it or get that rate.

Your elevation certificate will never go to waste, no matter which kind of insurance you choose. So, get a good, authorized professional to examine your property in a high-risk flood area. They will issue you an elevation certificate within a few weeks that you can use to get a solid insurance package. 

Finding a flood elevation certificate surveyor

Finding a flood elevation certificate surveyor may not be an easy task if you don’t know where to start, and depending on the options that you have in your area. You can check this article on how to obtain an elevation certificate.

If you are in Alabama, you can contact Tucker Engineering. We are a company with over 25 years of experience and a highly skilled team of engineers and land surveyors, ready to take on the most challenging tasks. Get started today!