What is a Flood Elevation Certificate?
An elevation certificate (EC) is a document needed to confirm your home/property’s elevation in relation to the estimated height floodwaters could reach in the event of a major flood (especially in high-risk zones). In addition, ECs are used by the NFIP (and some private carriers) to provide elevation information necessary to:
  • Determine the appropriate flood insurance premium cost
  • Ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances
  • Support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA)or a Letter of Map Amendment based on fill (LOMR-F)
Who Needs a Flood Elevation Certificate?
For certain structures in a high-risk flood zone, an elevation certificate could be required if the flood insurance policy is written through a federally regulated insurance lender such as the NFIP. This is because in high-risk flood zones, there is at least a one in four chance a flood could occur during a 30-year mortgage. However, private insurers do not always require ECs – even in high-risk flood zones.
ECs are not required and are not used for flood zone rating in moderate- to low-risk areas (Zones B, C and X), undetermined risk areas (Zone D), or certain high-risk areas eligible for other subsidies (e.g., Zones AR and A99).
If you need help determining your flood zone and identifying possible lower rates based on recent map changes, North Carolina Flood Insurance is happy to assist.
When Do You Need a Flood Elevation Certificate?
A copy of your flood elevation certificate will often be required when you buy a new home in a high-risk area, are looking for a better premium rate, or if there has been a recent flood zone change in your area.
In high-risk flood zones, NFIP flood insurance policies cannot typically be written without the EC for the house or building. Though most private carriers may not require an EC to issue a policy, only select homes will qualify for private coverage. Therefore, it is best to have a copy of your EC when you contact North Carolina Flood Insurance (or any flood insurance agent) to get a flood policy in a high-risk flood zone.
Where Can You Get a Copy of Your Flood Elevation Certificate?
There are a couple of different ways to get a copy of your EC, including:
  • Floodplain Manager.
    Every NFIP participating community has a floodplain manager, which means your EC may already be on file.
  • Sellers of the Property You're Buying.
    When purchasing a new home or business, request that the sellers provide a copy of the EC – especially if the home is in a high-risk zone. If they don’t have an EC, ask if they can provide one before the closing.
  • Property Deed.
    The EC is sometimes included.
  • Developer or Builder.
    In a high-risk flood zone, the developer or builder may have been required to obtain an EC at the time they built the home.
  • Hire a licensed land surveyor, professional engineer, or certified architect.
    The job of these professionals is to determine the elevation around the building areas and certify whether or not the area around the property is under or above the prescribed flood elevation. It is important to note there may be a fee when you hire these professionals to complete an EC for you. However, before you hire one, ensure they are authorized by law to certify elevation information.
Why and How is Your Flood Elevation Certificate Used?
If your home is in a high-risk area (Zones A or V), the EC information is used to determine a risk-based premium for a flood insurance policy anywhere in North Carolina. For example, the EC shows the location of the building, lowest floor elevation, building characteristics, and flood zone.
Your flood insurance agent will use the EC to compare your building’s elevation to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). The BFE is the elevation that floodwaters are estimated to have a one percent chance of reaching or exceeding in a given year. Keep in mind, the higher your lowest floor is above the BFE, the lower the risk of flooding. Lower risk usually corresponds to lower flood insurance premiums.
Sample Elevation Certificate
Below is a sample elevation certificate and some of the information North Carolina Flood Insurance may require to write your flood insurance policy.
Have a question about your elevation certificate we did not answer?