Anyone who has attempted to purchase a home requiring flood insurance has heard about elevation certificates. And, as of recently, people who have tried to purchase flood insurance on a home that was built after the 1970s has also become familiar with elevation certificates. Most people want to know, what are they? Elevation certificates are official documentation from a surveyor that certifies the Base Floor Elevation (BSE) of a structure. Flood insurance rates are then based on where the lowest floor of the building is in relation to the BSE. When a property’s lowest floor meets or exceeds the BSE, rates are more favorable. When a property’s lowest floor is lower than the BSE, rates are less favorable.
The next question is, how can homeowners obtain elevation certificates? Obtaining an elevation certificate is as simple as hiring a state licensed surveyor and paying the fee. Depending on where a property is located, the cost could be anywhere between $500 and $2000 so like anything else, a homeowner may need to shop around for the best deal.
There are some benefits to obtaining an elevation certificate. For some homeowners, obtaining the elevation certificate could decrease their flood insurance rating. If their property’s lowest floor exceeds the BFE of the area, obtaining an elevation certificate certifying this would make them eligible to receive more favorable rates. If they already had flood insurance in place, they could be entitled to a refund for the extra, unnecessary premium they have paid.
Another benefit to obtaining an elevation certificate is simply being aware of what a homeowners true risk is when it comes to flooding. This knowledge could affect the decisions that homeowners make regarding what type of items they will allow to be housed in their basement, or help them to plan and implement a plan should a flood warning be issued for their area.
While it is understandable for some homeowners to be wary of obtaining flood insurance certificates due to the cost, only positive outcomes can be had. With the weather becoming more volatile, it makes sense for homeowners to shift their thinking to a protective mindset. An elevation certificate, while costing a fee, will ultimately give a homeowner guidance on where the property stands as relates to flooding risk and in the best cases will provide relief for flood insurance rates and even possibly a refund for homeowners with flood insurance in place who had been rated on an incorrect BSE.